They are major leading figures in the fight against the pillaging of their territory, ceaselessly endangered by oil, gold and copper companies. They are also guardians of their culture by transmission and education, crossing ancestral knowledge and a new form of modernity. These indigenous women from Ecuador, of the Andes mountains or the Amazon rainforest, have a central role in their communities and their battles. Entre Terre et Mères (Between Earth and Mothers) is a documentary project, born of the desire to highlight these women and collect their stories. It is about capturing an encounter between them and us - women from here - to, through the discovery of the Other and another view of modernity, rethink our relation to the World.
Since he first won the Presidential elections of Ecuador in 2006, Rafael Correa promised to end the submission of his country to foreign capitals and to engage a "citizens' revolution", which engendered undeniable social progress. Yet, Correa's politics of wealth creation and redistribution divide: they are indeed based on oil extraction. Even though the 2008 Ecuadorian Constitution is one of the biggest developments that Latin America has experienced so far (rights of Nature, prior and informed consent of the indigenous people about the exploitation of their territories, recognition of cultural diversity...), these decisions are not always actually operated.
In 2012, the Ecuadorian President launched the 11th Oil Licensing Round, dividing the South-East of Ecuador into 21 Amazonian oil blocks for Chinese exploitation. In August 2013, Rafael Correa announced the sacrifice of a unique sanctuary of biodiversity: the Yasuní National Park. Yet, the memory of Chevron-Texaco oil extractions is still very painful: between 1972 and 1992, Chevron-Texaco has intentionally poured more than 71 million tons of toxic waste and crude oil into the waters of the Amazon River. An ecological and social disaster, damaging the ancestral lands of indigenous people who were not consulted nor even informed about the health hazards. But it was also an example of how strong civil society is, winning a ten-year-long trial against giant Chevron-Texaco.
This last decade, indigenous people have indeed emerged as strong political actors on the national and international scenes, advocating the coexistence of different cultures, questioning the founding principles of democracy, as well as a destructive logic of profit, damaging for the nature. Definitely far from the folkloric image of indigenous people folded on themselves, we see them as one of the few forces able to question our dominant political, economical and cultural model. Indigenous communities demand, just like us, the recognition of their potential to build the society to come.
The Kichwa people of Sarayaku are actors of this pacific resistance. In 2006, they planted the first seeds of a future material and symbolic frontier around their territory, made of floristic trees. This project is called Frontier of Life. Today, the community is setting up a new project, called Living Forest: for the first time in the history of natural reserves, indigenous people wouldn't be put aside or reduced to a folkloric image; the Sarayaku people are indeed willing to manage their own territory by using their ancient knowledge. Last December, the women of Sarayaku have thus submitted the project Living Forest to the government.
Between Earth and Mothers is a 26 minutes documentary project. An ambitious project that we are preparing since more than six months now, assisted by Jacques Dochamps, filmmaker and president of the nonprofit organization Frontière de vie. Thanks to him, we have had the chance to meet a member of the Sarayaku community, Eriberto Gualinga, during his recent European tour to meet those supporting the indigenous rights. He is the filmmaker of documentary Children of the Jaguar.
After meeting numerous activists, scholars and anthropologists in Belgium, we have come to the conclusion that many communities are seeking more visibility. It is why, even if the Kichwa people of Sarayaku immediately touched us because of their pacific and innovative projects, we don't want to restrict ourselves to this only indigenous community. With the help of an amazing guide we are in contact with, we are also going to travel across the Andean mountains and further explore the Amazon rainforest. We are also going to benefit from the help of the Center for Economic and Social Rights of Ecuador during our stay there.
We are five young women. We thus want to point it out and to focus on women's place in these societies and their role within indigenous fights. These women are the victim of a double discrimination, because of their gender and their origin. Yet, they have a central role in the struggle for the recognition of their rights, as well as in education. Through arts, education, community life and cultural transmission, from women to women, our documentary aims to be, above all, a way to give an universal scope to the struggle for human rights, despite another way of being to the world.
Between Earth and Mothers wants to illustrate the encounter between them and us. We will have to be able to translate into words and images a whole other world, another way of living and thinking, very different from ours, and to share the lessons we have learned, in the hope of contributing to a society in transition. If our subject can seem exotic at first sight, it actually concerns us all: the environmental impact at global scale is real, the multicultural issue universal, and the questioning of our relation to nature important to rethink our consumption habits.
To follow us on Facebook, it's over there: Entre Terre & Mères
We are five Master 1 students in Sociocultural Animation and Lifelong Education at IHECS (Institute of Higher Studies of Social Communications, Brussels), a department that has the vocation to engage us in reflections on social issues but also cultural, environmental and educational ones - and that already has a long documentary tradition. We form a highly motivated, close and deeply committed group. If this project represents the completion of our studies, it is for us much more than a simple academic work. Thanks to our studies, we are used to work with audiovisual tools. For instance, some members of our group had the opportunity to work on a two-documentaries project in co-creation about the situation of women in Kivu (DRC) and the way the media portray them. Here is the Tumblr link to see these two works: http://ihecsfemmeskivu.tumblr.com/. We also all have experience in photography, sound recording/editing, writing... thanks to the numerous workshops provided by our school.
The dream team: Alix - Mathilde - Delphine - Charline - Laure
Delphine: If the project that my team and I have just presented you is so important to me, it's not only because travelling to explore this other culture, so different from ours, makes me crazy impatient; I am also profoundly willing to better understand the values and way of living of these communities, as well as the real issues they face with the exploitation of their lands. Today, after 8 months-long research, I feel ready to go there with my teammates to experience it for real. Having had the opportunity to travel to Chile, Peru and Bolivia for several months, I literally fell in love with Latin America... The idea of returning there fills my hearth with happiness, and especially to share this experience with my awesome team ;)
Charline: Student in sociocultural animation, I wanted my final project to represent me and overtake me at once. In my concern, this trip to Ecuador will be my first step in Latin America, a place that has always attracted me. I am already delighted to go capture these moments of meeting and impatient to share what we have learned over there! This project reflects a collective approach, and it is with this force that we will play!
Alix: I hesitated a lot between carrying on my studies in journalism and this master in media culture. Today, I don't regret anything! With another perspective, in a better harmony with my sensitivity, I have the same opportunities to fulfil my huge curiosity, to travel and enrich myself through the others. The subject of our project is vast, complex and captivates me by its questionings. It will be my first trip to Latin America. And I started a strange obsession with piranhas... that I intend to taste (and not the opposite)!
Mathilde: It's been a few months now that I give my heart and motivation to this project. Since the beginning, I take great pleasure in informing myself over the subject and I keep learning more about the various topics that directly or undirectly refer to our graduation project every day. Now, let's experience the adventure over there, in Ecuador, in the Andes or in the Amazon. I am sure of it, with all the skills we have come to acquire these past years, my teammates and I will come back with awesome things to share!
Laure: Master 1 student in the department of sociocultural animation and lifelong education at IHECS, I am very interested in creating new forms of social development, social cohesion and active citizenship. Anthropology, ethnology, and environmental issues have always passionated me. I am particularly fond of working with audiovisual tools, especially since I am convinced that audiovisual techniques are good ways to raise awareness and educate people. At any age, at any scale, in any place we can take a step. It is important for me that thoughts and words turn into actions. Today we are ready to roll up our sleeves, discover and be discovered.