The Peruvian Film Heritage Association is dedicated to the preservation and celebration of Peruvian and Latin American audiovisual heritage, as well as of the precious languages, cultures and wisdom of the region's Indigenous communities. The Association works tirelessly to achieve this goal through incredible projects such as the Latin American Film Festival in Native Languages and the Indigenous Film School.
Keep reading to find out how Onaway is helping the organisation to bring film in native languages to the Peruvian Amazon via a solar-powered floating cinema boat.
CULTURES ON THE BRINK
The Peruvian Amazon is one of the most anthropologically diverse and biodiverse places on the planet. Covering 61% of the country, it is home to the majority of Peru’s ethnic groups and more than 44 different Indigenous languages. However with ever more Indigenous peoples succumbing to the centuries of persecution, marginalisation and land theft that they have faced, many indigenous languages are now at risk of dying out alongside their speakers.
Not only is the persecution and death of Indigenous peoples a grave tragedy in itself, but the erasure of such a wealth of sacred wisdom, heritage and culture that only these communities possess also signifies a huge loss for the whole of humanity, and one which we cannot afford in this age of climate catastrophe. Defending Indigenous peoples and their languages therefore by extension helps to protect biodiversity and make a stand against environmental, as well as cultural, destruction.
INDIGENOUS FILM FESTIVAL
The Peruvian Film Heritage Association (Asociación Patrimonio Fílmico Peruano) has set out to fight back against this discrimination and cultural erasure through the use of cinema, a powerful tool for providing a voice and outlet to communities who are often marginalised or made invisible due to a lack of access to the media and such means of expression.
For this reason they established the award-winning Latin American Film Festival in Native Languages (Festival de Cine Latinoamericano en Lenguas Originarias), the only film festival to take place simultaneously at the coast, in the mountains and in the forest of Peru (in the cities of Trujillo, Cusco and Pucallpa).
The festival, which in March 2023 held its fourth edition both in Peru and online, is committed to bringing cinema in native languages to marginalised communities without access to the internet or electricity. Films are divided into various categories in which they are showcased and judged: Short Films and Feature Films in native languages (both categories award one winner from Peru and one from another Latin American country), and Latin American Visions, films of any length which do not necessarily feature native languages but which explore Indigenous themes.
“We conceive cinema as a great means of expression for communities, groups or collectives that share an identity or common interests.”
The incredible films selected for the festival are not only inspiring in their portrayals of the reality of life for Indigenous communities past and present, but they convey their messages in a wide variety of styles, with everything from documentaries to fiction, animation and stop-motion films. In this way, the film festival contributes to the United Nations’ Decade of Indigenous Languages, which recognises the importance of Indigenous languages for cohesion and social inclusion, cultural rights, sustainable development, the preservation of biodiversity, and more.
The team organising the festival is made up of a wide variety of talented individuals including activists and human rights defenders, filmmakers, artists, cultural managers, shamans, and researchers. The Artistic Director, Róger Neyra, is a filmmaker, poet and conservationist with over 20 years’ experience working in native communities, as the founder of the Indigenous Film School of Peru and director of the Ayahuasca Healing Centre for Traditional Medicine and Ancestral Wisdom.
SOLAR-POWERED FLOATING CINEMA
Now the team is hoping to further increase the impact and reach of their activities with the creation of a solar-powered cinema boat. The floating cinema, proudly funded by the Onaway Trust and the British Council in Peru, will involve using a specially-adapted solar-powered boat to travel down the Peruvian Amazon, projecting films in indigenous languages in the most isolated villages along the way.
This is the first year that the organisation will be using the floating cinema in the hopes of promoting the production and appreciation of media in minority languages which are in danger of extinction, as well as contributing to the democratisation of audiovisual exhibition in this incredible and diverse region.
“We are aware of the power of cinema and its language as an instrument that erases territorial and mental borders.”
The project will also allow the Association to use cinema as a means of informing Indigenous communities, especially young people, about the actions that other communities are taking for the defence and conservation of biodiversity and the environment.
At the same time, workshops will be held with the local population to spread awareness about important topics such as circular economy and sustainable development. Community radio stations and social media will be used to share information about these face-to-face activities and the vital teachings of the films and workshops with local and international followers.
Onaway’s funding will go towards this radio spot for broadcasting in native languages, in addition to the labour and materials required for the construction and adaptation of the boat. We are very excited to be involved in such an incredible and unique project using creative expression to fight for the languages, cultures and rights of Indigenous communities. Keep an eye on the News page and Onaway’s social media for the latest updates on the floating cinema.