[VFF ’16] A Highlight from the Indigenous Program – Stories from the Sierra Madre – A Preview

5 Feb

Victoria Film Festival 2016
Sun, Feb 7, 6pm
The Vic Theatre
808 Douglas St,
Victoria, BC

Stories from the Sierra Madre is a cultural film that looks at how important the San Pedro River is to two local villages. This product is just one of five films made by Indigenous filmmakers. This special program within the Victoria Film Festival is back for a second year!

The Wixarika (Huichol) and Nayeri (Cora) people are under threat of losing their traditional land and waters sacred to them. A dam is being built by order of the Mexican authorities. Instead of organizing protests, filmmaker Omar Osiris Ponce Nava is showing their plight for documentary and the environmentalist loving masses to see. In between this important story are gorgeously filmed moments of dawn and dusk where The Milky Way and cosmos can be seen. As a place to visit for star-gazing, this location is one for the bucket list! But in what’s truly visible when watching this film is the deep connection these folks have with the land. It’s felt in their dialog, which is subtitled. Even though the translation feels muddled, the understanding is there.

Places like the “Presidio de los Reyes,” are shown for its natural beauty and other locations like the “Caimanero,” has already become federal land. The people can do little to change what’s already happened. They have to work around it. They even look at the damage done by construction workers and name another site “The Burned Hill” where the base of operations for the dam is most likely to be located.

This documentary is poignant in highlighting the fact that mankind with all its machinery does not know how to live symbiotically with the land. What’s done is about destruction instead of working out a truce with those who depend on it. Details like whether restitution is not revealed. The government is what it is, and the dialogue, however cryptic as it sounds by the village elders, the dialogue says it all:

“Walking is feeling, feeling and absorbing many things. Putting aside everything all the bad things inside. To go up to the visit with complete love and care. This one was known as Puwuari. Yes, that was named Puwuari – but the sacred one is only named Puwuari.

“This place is very important to us because this place watches over us – the one who opens the path – the one who protects us.

If we stop our tradition it will be the end, we will be finished.”

Fortunately, for the locals, they are attempting to get what’s left and not demolished by industrialization into the National Agrarian Registry. Time may be limited, and hopefully their ongoing efforts, with thanks to this film, will get the Sierra Madre’s established as a national park instead of land to be exploited.

4 Stars out of 5

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