Native Spirit Film Festival Explores Indigenous Culture in Latin America and the Rest of the World

By 10 October, 2011

We’re big fans of the Native Spirit Festivaland it’s hearty mix of indigenous film, music and talks. As in previous years there are plenty of great films (especially documentaries) about life for the indigenous people of Latin America. The festival will be taking place at SOAS, Rudolf Steiner House and Bolívar Hall from October 12th until the 21st.

Of particular Latin American interest are Octubre Pilagá (The October Silence), which tells the harrowing story of genocide in Argentina; Laberinto Verde (Green Labyrinth), detailing the struggles of coca leaf farmers in Bolivia; and El Perro del Hortelano (Dog In The Manger), a Peruvian comedy about a local man and his attempts to take down a US oil company that is threatening to move into his village. Additionally there are plenty of short films about the indigenous people of Latin America, including a selection from Peru directed by Michael Watts, who will also be talking about the films.

Wednesday 12th October
@ Rudolf Steiner House

7pm: Opening Ceremony Ancient Aztec huehuetiliztli dance and music. Xiquipiltan shares his heritage with a cleansing ‘Sahuamas’ ritual to commence the festival.

7.35pm: La Linea Negra (The Black Line Journey) For millennia, in compliance with their ‘Law of Origin’, the Mamos (Indigenous Elders) of the Sierra Nevada de Santa Marta have made offerings along The Black Line – a spiritual boundary which demarcates their ancestral territory and connects 54 sacred sites. This film documents how they care for what they call the ‘Heart of the World’.
Prod. Rick Harlow / 26min / Arhuaco, Kogui, Wiwa / Colombia

8.10pm: Cry Rock The wild beauty of Canada’s Bella Coola Valley blends with vivid watercolor animation, illuminating the role of the Nuxalk oral tradition and the intersection of storytelling, place and culture.
Dir. Banchi Hanuse / 28min / Nuxalk / Canada

8.40pm: Le Pietre Sonore di Pinuccio Sciola (The Sound Stones of Pinuccio Sciola) Pinuccio Sciola is a sculptor born in Sardinia, an island made of rock. He works with pietre sonore or ‘sound stones’: large sculptures that resonate when rubbed by human hands or small rocks. The film is a sonic illustration of his co-creation with nature and his views on ancestral sounds.
Dir. Yann Tonnar / 15min / Italy

8.55pm: West Papua: Freedom Be Sung Through music and song we are taken to the highlands of West Papua where the Lani people live. Their lives are dramatically changing and they being silenced by the Indonesian military but they continue to try to have their voices heard. Through song we witness beauty, power and resistance.
Dir. Clare Harding / 17min / Lani / West Papua

9.30pm Live Music: Kouame Sereba Multi-instrumentalist and vocalist Kouame was born in Abidjan, Cote d´Ivoire. He was sent by his parents to their native village Tiegba at the age of 10. Living there he learned about traditional life, music and dance, he now lives in Norway and was awarded Folk Musician of the Year during the Folk Music Awards at Folkelarm.

Thursday 13th October
@ Bolívar Hall

7.30pm: River of Renewal “By saving the salmon we may save ourselves”. Over the years, different dominant groups have exploited the Klamath River, which has led to the collapse of industries and of wild salmon populations. Now these
communities have to come together to defend the River.
Dir. Carlos Bolado / 55min / Hoopa, Yurok, Karuk, Klamath, Madoc / USA

8.30pm: Inuit High Kick The high kick is an ancient celebration of Inuit culture. The film is a stunning demonstration of timeless athleticism.
Dir. Alethea Arnaquq-Baril / 3min / Inuit / Canada

8.35pm: Qimmit – A Clash of Two Truths This film investigates the treatment of sleigh dogs by state authorities in the Inuit territories. Elders from the community seek to share and heal past grievances. A complex film that highlights the ambiguity of perception, memory and human behaviour in a colonial landscape.
Dir. Ole Gjerstad & Joelie Sanguya / 68min / Inuktitut / Canada

Friday 14th October
@ SOAS Khalili Lecture Theatre

8pm: A Un Paso del Cielo (One Step From Heaven) An intimate portrait of Francisco, a farmer from Lunahuaná in Perú.
Dir. Franklin Alberto Saccsa Sánchez / 13min / Perú

8.15pm: A Thousand Suns A film exploring food, ecology and religion in the 21st century. A Thousand Suns tells the story of the Gamo Highlands of the African Rift Valley and the unique worldview held by the people in the region.
Dir. Stephen Marshall / 28min / Gamo / Ethiopia / Kenya/ USA

8.45pm: Parque de la Papa (The Potato Park) Introduced by Martin Pedersen. The potato is one of the world’s major food crops and has been protected for centuries by the deeply rooted local food systems of Quechua peoples. This is a film about the Potato Park in Perú were six communities have come together to protect and preserve the interdependency of indigenous biocultural heritage for local rights, livelihoods, conservation and sustainable use of agrobiodiversity.
Sacaca, Chawaytire, Kuyo Grande, Pampallaqta, Paru and Amaru / 14min / Perú

9.30pm: Laberinto Verde (Green Labyrinth) A gift from Pacha Mama – the coca leaf continues to spark debate at a time of geopolitical shifts in South America. This film looks at the plant from a new perspective to highlight the difference between the sacred leaf and its use in everyday life and the drug derived from it – cocaine.
Dir. Abel Kavanagh and Amaru Durand Mitre / 82min / Quechua / Bolivia

Here’s the trailer for Laberinto Verde:

Saturday 15th October

Room G51
2.00pm – 4.30 pm: Storytelling – Native Tales: Healing Words Traditional stories have always been used to carry the culture and the wisdom of the people. Experience the joy of stories with Annie Spencer, founder of Hartwell Shamanic Ways, as she shares tales from across the lands. Booking for this event is available, to reserve your place email: [email protected] with ‘Storytelling’ in the title. £8 entry.

An Evening of Indigenous Culture from Britain and Ireland
Room G50

5.00pm: The Way of the Morris Beautifully shot personal account one man’s journey to discover his Morris heritage. The film tells many stories; of the UK’s estrangement from it’s rural roots and the meaning of community, culture, tradition, place and belonging.
Dir. Tim Plester / 64min / English / UK

7.00pm – 11.00pm (SOAS Student Union Bar): Now Folk! Live music and song! In partnership with The Magpie’s Nest – BBC Folk Club of 2010 – a selection of traditional music from around Britain and Ireland.

Sunday 16th October
@ SOAS Lucas Lecture Theatre (G2)

12.00 – 2.00pm: Native Spirit Children’s Workshop (For children aged 5-11: young children to be accompanied by an adult). This workshop will be led by Eduardo, who will be sharing cultural traditions from his homeland, Mexico. Children will have fun learning about aspects of Aztec culture creatively through art, dance and music. To reserve your place email: [email protected] with ‘Children’s Day’ in the title. £8 entry

Voices of Youth
Two sessions of short films

First Session
2.00pm: O A’u O Le Taupou (I Am The Taupou)
A young Taupou (sacred maiden) must find the balance between Sãmoa traditions and her modern way of life. Produced by participants from the Pacific Islanders in Communications (PIC) filmmakers’ workshop / Sãmoan / 6min / American Sãmoa

Non-Removable A documentary addressing the grief felt by members of the Mille Lacs Lake Band of Ojibue following a series of teen deaths. The students grapple with growing up on their reservation.
Dir. Students of Nay Ah Shing School / 6min / Anishinaabe / USA

Don’t Cry Children. Singing. Mountain. Snow. Don’t Cry…words can’t adequately describe this film – it’s beautiful – come
and see it!
Dir. Ken Awashish, Allen Clary, Dayla Awashish, Danicka Dubé / 5 mins / Attikamek of Opitciwan / Canada

It Came From The Wilderness A simple yet profound portrait of a young boy in his ascent to manhood. He describes the excitement and adrenaline of learning to hunt, being with nature and learning how to provide for the family.
Dir. Kurt Mathias / 6min / Anishnabe, Winneway / Canada

Second Session
2.45pm: Keepers of the Water
Made by a group of Native Children in Fort Chipewyan, their community sits directly downstream from the Alberta Tar Sands – the most environmentally toxic industrial project in the world.
Dir. Ayelen Liberona / 5min / Canada

Anishnabe Aki A short film relating the importance of youth connecting with their culture, their land and their past.
Dir. Emilio Wawatie / 6min / Anishnabe (Algonquin) of Kitigan Zibi / Canada

Waseya Dizihin (Treasure of Light) “…you will carry the fire, the water, the Earth.”
Dir. Kevin Papatie / 3min / Anishnabe (Algonquin) of Kitciskik / Canada

I Am Pema A day in the life of little Pema, risking never being able to see her again, Pema’s parents send her to a life in
exile where she is free to gain an education into her true, Tibetan cultural identity.
Dir. Sam Wangyal / 12min / Tibetan / Tibet/Nepal

3.30pm: We Still Live Here (Âs Nutayuneân) The remarkable story of cultural revival by the Wampanoag of Southeastern Massachusetts. Their ancestors ensured the survival of the first English settlers in America – and lived to regret it. Now they are bringing their language back again.
Dir. Anne Makepeace / 59min / Wampanoag / USA

6pm onwards: Sharing Messages from Indigenous Australia – An Evening of Culture, Film and Discussion Including the Film: Our Generation. Hidden from the eyes of the world, Australia’s First Peoples are fighting for freedom. Our Generation is their call to the nation, a fresh and unflinching look at unresolved issues, driven by the Yolngu of Northeast Arnhem Land.
Dir. Sinem Saban & Damien Curtis / 73 min / Aboriginal / Australia

Evening’s programme TBA – see inserts/website for event details.

Tuesday 18th October
@ SOAS Khalili Lecture Theatre

7.00pm: The Welsh and the Tehuelche A short animation recounting how Welsh settlers traded with the indigenous Tehuelche community in Argentina.
Dir. Gerald Conn / 4min / Tehuelche / Wales/Argentina

7.10pm: Octubre Pilagá (The October Silence) In La Bamba, Northern Argentina, a group of elderly people put an end to the silence that has shrouded their community for over sixty years. This film recounts what happened – a film about the past, and a vehicle for understanding the present. It reveals personal memories that tell the hidden story of the genocide of the native peoples of Argentina.
Dir. Valeria Mapelman / 80min / Pilagá / Argentina

8.45pm: Paracas This animation of a 2000 year old textile from the Paracas culture of Perú brings figures and images to life and illuminates a vision of life as they saw it – for us to explore and experience. Through weaving they spoke to the dead, through weaving they speak to us across time.
Dir. Cecilia Vicuña / 18min / Pre-Colombian Paracas culture from Perú / USA

9.10pm: Written Out of History Followed by Q&A with directors. Written Out of History blends historical facts with accounts of the forgotten legacy of Native American slavery told by indigenous scholars and anthropologists. This artistic documentary reconstructs for the first time on camera the events that led to the erasure of indigenous forced labour from the annals of history.
Dir. Max Carocci and Simona Piantieri / 23min / USA

Wednesday 19th October
@ Bolívar Hall

7.30pm: What Men Don’t Know In Tao culture, men construct canoes and catch fish as women manage agriculture and bring in the taro harvest. During ‘Mingamangana’ (crab festival) Tao women prepare sumptuous meals of taro cakes and land crabs to cheer their men for their hard work at sea.
Dir. Jia-Wei Zhang / 24min / Tao / Taiwan

8.00pm: Fever: Indigenous Peoples and Climate Change: Organisation & Resilience Indigenous communities discuss the climate crisis from their unique perspectives. These two shorts explore the organisational tools and strategies they are employing to protect their cultures, territories and rights, and how indigenous people are increasing their resilience to climate change by strengthening their traditional knowledge and systems.
Dir. Serge Marti and Gemma Sethsmith / 45min / Nayak / Kichua / Cofan / Dayak / Lombok / Indonesia/Ecuador/Nicaragua/Philippines

9.00pm: Amador Hernández, Chiapas – Starved of Medical Services for Redd+ The region of Amador Hernández is threatened by plans to implement REDD+ (Reducing Emissions from Deforestation and Forest Degradation). Villagers are concerned by the threat of displacement justified by the supposed protection of the jungle. A Global Justice Ecology Project production.
Dir. Jeff Conant / 10min / Tzeltal / Mexico/USA

9.10pm: Pitaqangittuq In the isolated arctic community of Pitaqangittuq the climate is warming at an alarming rate, but its inhabitants are determined to adapt to their changing world by utilising their ancestral survival skills and creativity. This tongue-in-cheek film is a touching and humourous tale of adaptation, entrepreneurship and survival.
Dir. Guillaume Saladin, Felix Pharand, Nicolas Tardit / 32min / Inuit – Inuktitut / Canada

Thursday 20th October
@ Bolívar Hall

Community and Corporation Communities around the world are having their traditions and livelihoods threatened by the pressures of modern industry. This evening looks at the impact of mining across Latin America and the efforts being made in parts of the world to empower communities to protect their cultural knowledge and heritage. It will be followed by a discussion to explore issues raised by the films.

7.30pm: 2nd December Hard hitting short about the killing of two farmers by the Peruvian police in 2009.
Dir. Michael Watts / 12min / Perú

Benicia The devastating consequences of conflict caused by informal mining on the life of Benicia.
Dir. Michael Watts / 6min / Perú

Margarita The story of Margarita’s 10 year fight to bring a mining company to justice for health problems caused in her village of Mayoc in Perú.
Dir. Michael Watts / 12min / Perú

Women, Mining and Human Rights This film captures the voice of the women attending a conference in Guatemala in 2010 that brought together Indigenous women affected by mining from across Latin America.
Dir. Michael Watts and David McNulty / 10min / Latin America

8.30pm: Reviving Our Culture, Mapping Our Future This film shows the story of a special gathering of Indigenous leaders in Venda, South Africa. The community is brought together to map their culture and sacred sites to protect their rights and traditions in a modernising world.
Dir. Jess Phillimore / 13min / Vhavenda / Venda / South Africa

Panel Discussion and Q&A with:
Mauricio Lazala, Business & Human Rights Resource Centre
Teresa Anderson, Gaia Foundation
Jess Phillimore, Filmmaker
Michael Watts, Filmmaker

Friday 21st October
@ SOAS Khalili Lecture Theatre

8.00pm: El Perro del Hortelano (Dog In The Water) El Perro del Hortelano is a feature comedy about Brus an indigenous artist in Peru’s Amazon, and his efforts to organise his community against the Americana oil company: Kenny Oil. Searching for answers Brus joins a local NGO and as he explores the surreal world of volunteers and development experts. Ultimately he discovers his own way of bringing strength to his community.
Dir. Renzo Zanelli / 90min / Amazon / Perú

9:45pm: Smokin’ Fish A documentary about a young and quirky Tlingit businessman Cory Mann. Hungry for smoked salmon and nostalgic for his childhood, Cory decides to spend a summer smoking fish at his family’s traditional fish camp.
He makes a pilgrimage to his ancestral home in remote Alaska where he is forced to confront the dichotomy
between his history and the world he lives in.
Dir. Luke Griswold-Tergis and Cory Mann / 80min / Tlingit / Alaska, USA

22nd October – 2nd November: The Gathering of Spiritual Elders Following the success of the encounters in previous years, Native Spirit Foundation, with the support of the SOAS Students’ Union, is coordinating the visit of a delegation of Indigenous Elders to come to Europe. They come representing different communities – some having had very little to do with the outside world – from North, Central and South America. As spiritual guides and community leaders they come to share ancient teachings in the form of ceremonies, workshops and talks in London, Lewes and Avebury. Updates will be posted on our website and Facebook. For more information about the visit and itinerary see website.

The Native Spirit Festival 2011 will be taking place across three venues:

Rudolf Steiner House
35 Park Rd
London NW1 6XT
Tube: Baker Street

School of Oriental & African Studies
University of London
Thornhaugh Street, Russell Square
London WC1H
Tube: Russel Square

Bolívar Hall
54 Grafton Way
London W1T 5DL
Tube: Warren Street

This festival is organised entirely by volunteers, all the proceeds from ticket sales at the festival go towards Native Spirit Foundation projects.

Tickets: £5 suggested donation on door
Festival Film Pass: £35 available on door

There is limited capacity at all venues – arrive early to secure seats!
Prior booking for workshops recommended – email [email protected]

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