Prehensile Producers Jennifer Berglund and Keith Heyward embark on an unusual adventure to help Amazonian Indigenous people to document their unique way of living in harmony with the most bio-diverse eco-system on the planet. The two will be in Chattanooga on February 17, 2012 as part of a Southeastern tour to screen the trailer for this full-length documentary in the making. Here’s more from the press release:
In June 2012, the production crew of Prehensile Productions will follow five Waorani students as they race to document their ancestors’ knowledge before the last of their elders disappear. With it, the students will build an encyclopedia describing their way of life and forest to teach a global audience and future
Waorani generations the value of their culture and homeland.
Recording this information is especially critical within the next 12 months because the Ecuadorian government must reach a decision that will determine the fate of the most biologically diverse place on the planet, and the Waorani, one of the last remaining Amazonian tribes. Either the government receives $300 million from international donors, or drilling will commence for 846 million barrels of oil from an untapped block of Yasuní National Park. Though monumental, this threat is nothing new to the indigenous people of this area. With poor resources for education, and a process of assimilation that increasingly separates the Waorani from their traditional hunter-gatherer lifestyle, defending their biologically rich territory from the massive incursion
of industry continues to be a harrowing battle.
Determined to take matters into their own hands, the students formulated a unique strategy that melds tradition with science, and old knowledge with new technology. With it, they are determined to prove to the outside world the ecological value of their homeland, and the importance of preserving their culture, which played a vital role in defending their territory for thousands of years. The basic idea is simple — record traditional knowledge of their forest and culture.
The execution, however, is titanic. In order to compile this disappearing information, the Waorani students must locate and consult their last living elders, who are spread across a remote rainforest territory larger than the state of New Jersey. The elders are the only ones left who remember their rich culture and land as it was before first contact by the outside world in 1956. Armed with knowledge, the students will build a multimedia guide of their forest and customs–a curriculum they will use to educate their government and the outside world about the ecological importance of their homeland and their presence in it. With a new understanding, they hope to save their ecological Eden from development and devastation.
In this feature length documentary and transmedia campaign, a small crew from Prehensile Productions will accompany the students on their journey into the heart of the Amazon rainforest. As the students document their traditional knowledge, Prehensile Productions will combine their footage, photos, and information to tell an intimate story of a small tribe’s efforts to divert a monumental crisis.
To bring awareness to the issues their documentary will explore, producers Keith Heyward and Jennifer Berglund are holding an information session and screening of the trailer at Chattanooga’s GreenSpaces (63 E Main Street, Chattanooga 37408) on Friday, February 17 from 7-9 PM. The Event is free and open to the public.