Thu, Jul 25, 2024
Indigenous community in the heart of Peru’s Amazon hosts film festival celebrating tropical forests

Indigenous community in the heart of Peru’s Amazon hosts film festival celebrating tropical forests

  • PublishedMay 26, 2024

BELÉN – In the heart of Peru’s Amazon region, a poor Indigenous community put aside the trials and tribulations of everyday life and celebrated an international film festival with works from countries with tropical forests.

Many who attended the 10-day event had never seen a movie on the big screen, and the one used for the festival was itself unique due to the area’s geography.

“The festival aims to be a tribute to the jungles of the world and its people, to the Indigenous communities, in which we believe lies the answer to the challenges and destruction that forests face now that everyone is talking about climate change,” Daniel Martínez-Quintanilla, co-executive director of the festival that ends Sunday, said.

Life in the community of Belén revolves around water. Houses and businesses are built on stilts because rains regularly lead to monthslong floods. Families own canoes to move around, but children who lack one sometimes use large plastic containers instead.

So, members of the Muyuna Floating Film Festival — muyuna in the Quechua language means “a whirlpool formed in mighty rivers” — set the screen on a 10- meter (33-foot) high wooden structure, allowing residents to enjoy the films from their canoes or the windows of their homes.

“For the first time, we are getting to know these settings that are bringing us to this community,” said Belén resident Jorge Chilicahua, a 60-year-old farmer who raises chickens and plants cassava, corn and vegetables to meet his family’s needs. He has never been to a movie theater.

Much of the population of Belén comes from rural areas of the Peruvian Amazon and are part of various Indigenous groups, including the Kukama, Yagua and Bora, that migrated in search of better economic, educational and health opportunities. Their challenges abound.

People fish by making holes in the wooden floors of their houses, which forces mothers to keep a watchful eye over their children who do not yet know how to swim so that they don’t fall into the water and drown. Health authorities have reported malnutrition and diarrhea are common due to lack of drinking water.

Martínez-Quintanilla said the event included films from Thailand, Brazil, Taiwan, Panama and other countries with tropical forests, as well as others made by young Peruvians.

The works screened included the Peruvian animated short film “The Engine and the Melody,” which tells the story of an ant that fells Amazonian trees and a cicada that manages to regenerate the forest by playing a prodigious flute — until everything changes when a forest fire occurs.


Briceño reported from Lima, Peru.

Copyright 2024 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed without permission.

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