Joining Hearts & Hands: From Movie to Movement
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“If taking a pen and writing a book would have been more effective than making a movie, that’s what we would have done,” said Clement Guerra, director of The Condor & The Eagle, a documentary about four Indigenous women leaders in a transcontinental adventure, from the boreal forests of Canada to the heart of the Amazon rainforest, reflecting the Indigenous struggle to protect land and water.
It is also a film about the Indigenous peoples of North and South America in their work to preserve their communities.
More than a documentary, what Guerra and his wife Sophie wanted to do, he says, was to support various communities in lifting up their voices. Before traveling, the couple were already aware of how Western countries treated the environment.
REGISTER HERE for “Defending the Defenders of Mother Earth,” the Bilingual Americas Premiere of The Condor & The Eagle. 5pm LAX/ 7pm MEX/ 8 pm NYC Wednesday, July 1, 2020
For several years, Guerra was manager of international marketing in London, a stage that the director himself considers as preparatory. “From the beginning I knew that I had to learn the language of the oppressors in order to better confront them,” explained the French environmentalist, who learned how to make a business plan, a communication strategy, “all that crap that is now very useful because I know how to communicate with company executives.”
The couple chose North America because their attention was drawn to what was happening with the Keystone XL project pipelines, which run from Alberta, Canada, to Nebraska, United States. Listening to the villagers, they realized there was a bigger story to tell, and they didn’t think it was a bad idea to buy a movie camera and make a movie.
Terrible people on the right and on the left
The Guerras filmed The Condor & the Eagle to “invite people to put themselves in the shoes of those who live the impact of destruction on their lives,” trying to avoid the political aspects and seeking to reach the hearts of the people.
“I hate political discourse and ideologies. There are terrible people on the right and on the left. Most often they are just empty words, so instead of trying to motivate social change with more words or concepts, or pitting one another against each other, the idea of the film was to show how a social movement is built from below,” the director explained.
Guerra has no trouble admitting his family’s racist past. His mother grew up in Algeria, in the colonizing part, and he fought to separate himself and overcome the toxicity that belongs to a family of racists. In a way, Guerra has always been in contact with that way of thinking.
The documentary is narrated through Indigenous people from different parts of America. The director believes that the vision of Indigenous peoples has guided the environmental movement worldwide, for its wisdom, because it provides a cultural complement to building a social movement. They are aware that there must also be a cultural change, he says.
Although the filmmaker considers science important and necessary, he also says he is tired of hearing that the solution to climate change, to destruction, is more science, more technology. “We cannot provide a technological solution to a technological problem.”
Guerra is convinced that the only way a real difference can be made is through union. His film has already contributed to linking different Indigenous and ecological communities in North and South America. However, the idea is not to get to a place and establish your ideas, he emphasized; instead, he believes that communities should be supported in making their own decisions.
Among their plans is to build a platform that serves affected communities to report their problems, by them and for them, so that from contact, these leaders can begin to collaborate with each other and build a network that will be powerful in the future.
Before finishing The Condor & the Eagle, Guerra and his wife had already decided to do everything in their power to help the causes of these communities. While they were filming, they helped raise funds so that the community leaders featured in the documentary could travel and meet; now they continue to do so.
Due to the pandemic, their plans for this year were affected. However, adapting to digital media has allowed them to have an unexpected reach. A couple of weeks ago, Guerra and Indigenous leaders presented the documentary, which they have used to generate discussion and links between different communities.
“We all need to rediscover what it means to be Indigenous and rediscover our natural roots,” Guerra said. “We will never protect something we don’t love. If we feel separated from nature and do not understand that we are nature defending itself, there is no hope.”
On July 1, at 7:00 pm Central Time, The Condor & The Eagle will be broadcast online in a special premiere event: the Bilingual Americas Premiere, Defending the Defenders of Mother Earth. The screening will be followed by a Q&A with the four inspiring protagonists of the documentary and director Clement Guerra. To access the screening, a donation must be made, which will be used to support the groups represented by the four speakers that are working for climate and environmental justice.