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Legacy of the Andes: An Urgent Wakeup Call to a World In Trouble
Three-year transmedia project opens a window on Indigenous responses to our current civilizational crisis.
By Tracy L. Barnett Posted in Esperanza Project on January 7, 2024
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Editor’s note: We have temporarily discontinued access to the film so that we can enter the film festival circuit, which will offer us greater visibility if we are selected, but it requires that the film not be available to the public. Please stay tuned for our official release and premiere. Meantime, meet the protagonists and enjoy a deep dive into the emblematic Andean communities featured in the film, in our six in-depth articles that accompany the film. Coming soon: a 50-page printable PDF with the context behind the stories.

Good news! After three long years of labor, we have finally finished Legacy of the Andes, the long-awaited second part of our Cosmology & Pandemic transmedia series. We will be sharing the film for a limited time with our followers and supporters at the Cosmology & Pandemic site, HERE. All contributions go to support our transmedia work to elevate the voices of our Indigenous wisdom keepers and land defenders, and changemakers throughout the Americas.

Once you see this film and read the stories that accompany it, you’ll understand why Hernán and I have risked everything for this three-year project. You may find yourself “laughing and crying at the same time”, like the bestselling author, Wiraqocha Foundation founder and Q’eros wisdom keeper Elizabeth Jenkins.

Laughing and crying at the same time… FABULOUS FILM! You guys did an amazing job. This is EXCELLENCE! I am ready to pull out all the stops to promote this.

Elizabeth Jenkins. Wiraqocha Foundation founder and Q’eros wisdom keeper.

The Esperanza Project, together with the support of the Pulitzer Center on Crisis Reporting and The One Foundation, spent three years working to produce Legacy of the Andes. This epic journey through six ancestral cultures, beginning at the height of the recent pandemic and continuing to the present day.

Para leer este artículo en Español ve a El Legado de los Andes: Un llamado de atención urgente para un mundo en crisis

Portraying rare and intimate footage from isolated communities like Hatun Q’ero, Peru, where the last direct descendants of the Inka live much as they have for millenia, the hour-long film uses the recent pandemic as a springboard for Indigenous perspectives on our current civilizational crisis.

Filmed in six emblematic Indigenous communities, an ancient archaeological site, and major cities in Peru, Bolivia, Chile and Ecuador, Legacy of the Andes helps us to see how traditional lifeways and worldviews hold the key to a shift towards Buen Vivir, or Good Living, an Andean concept that elevates the wellbeing of the planet and all that surrounds us as a major consideration in our quality of life. The protagonists’ critique of Western civilization is an urgent wakeup call to viewers and readers to radically shift our priorities and our way of life before it’s too late.

We started a series of limited special screenings to share the movie among selected audiences, the first one being within the framework of the XV International Congress on Wildlife Management of Amazonia and Latin America at the University of Magdalena, Santa Marta, Colombia on Nov. 22. Besides the presence of biologists, ethnobotanists and other academics of the region, representatives of the indigenous peoples of the area were among the audience, which finished the screening session with a rich exchange triggered by our audiovisual research.

The Cosmology and Pandemic series and this second episode “The Legacy of the Andes”, leaves us with an emotional lesson and an absolutely clear and forceful message about the importance and power that the traditional knowledge of indigenous peoples has in solving our most complex civilizational problems, such as the recent COVID 19 Pandemic, climate change and other upcoming events…

Dra. Emma Estrada Martínez, Investigadora, Universidad Autonoma Chapingo México UACh
Authorities of the indigenous peoples from the “Heart of the World”, as they call the Sierra Nevada de Santa Marta, Colombia, including Kogi Mamos or spiritual guides, attended the first pre-release screening of “Legacy of the Andes” at the “IV Encuentro Audiovisual , Weaving Biocultural Networks,” developed within the framework of the “XV International Congress on Wildlife Management of the Amazon and Latin America” in Santa Marta, Colombia.

In addition to the film, the series includes six in-depth articles taking us deeper into the lives, perspectives and values of each of these emblematic communities, as well as a downloadable 50-page book providing greater context into the lessons learned during the pandemic that share with us practical wisdom to improve our lives in the short term, while preparing for the massive changes that they warn us are coming soon. 

The series was created with the help of local and Indigenous film producers and journalists on-site and coordinated by directors Hernán Vilchez in Buenos Aires, Argentina, and Tracy L. Barnett in Guadalajara, Mexico. At the height of the crisis, Barnett and Vilchez reached into more than 20 indigenous communities in six South American countries. Thanks to modern communication technology, they were able to find, empower and work remotely with local teams to tell their stories of resilience and healing.

Vilchez, a professional filmmaker with two decades’ experience working with Indigenous communities around the world, teamed up with Barnett, a veteran environmental and human rights journalist, during the production of the internationally acclaimed 2014 film Huicholes: The Last Peyote Guardians. Together the two formed the nonprofit to support the work of The Esperanza Project magazine (founded in 2009 to cover social change initiatives throughout the Americas) and Esperanza Project TV (founded in 2014 as an international interdisciplinary team producing awareness-raising films and series).  

The Legacy of the Andes is the second of this three-part transmedia series. Part I, The Body as Territory, was filmed and reported in three Indigenous communities in Colombia and released in October 2021 at the height of the pandemic. Work has already begun on Part III, Revelation of the Amazon, which likewise draws on local and Indigenous producers and offers interviews and intimate views of original communities throughout Brazil, Ecuador, Colombia and Peru from the early months of the pandemic to the present day. 

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Entrance procession and opening of the Festival of the Virgin of the Snows in the Kallawaya territory Jathun Ayllu Amarete, municipality of Charazani, in the Bautista Saavedra province of the department of La Paz, Bolivia. (Image from Cosmology & Pandemic: Legacy of the Andes / The Esperanza Project)

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