Each year, imagineNATIVE’s International Spotlight highlights the work of Indigenous filmmakers from around the world. This showcase allows us the opportunity to screen and video works new to Canada and give voice to artists, places and cultures not often seen or heard. As programmers, we are always amazed – and heartened – to see that despite our incredible diversity as Indigenous peoples, we share experiences that transcend geographical and ethnic boundaries. Ours is an Indigenous experience that unites us and speaks volumes about who we are as global citizens.
This year, imagineNATIVE presents two screenings of documentary works by Mapuche artists. The Mapuche nation is one of South America’s largest and whose territory exists predominantly in southern Chile and into Argentina. Comprising almost a million citizens, the Mapuche have unique struggles in their homeland that are often addressed in their media works. Not unlike many Indigenous filmmakers in Latin America, much of their work is comprised of social activist documentaries, providing much-needed Indigenous perspectives in a socio-political context where their voices are often discredited or silenced.
The works presented this year reveal strong, interrelated themes of culture, land and resistance, in particular to the rise of mining and forestry on their traditional territories, including many run by Canadian multi-nationals. The relationship between the Mapuche and corporate and federal interests is often fraught with conflicts and disagreements. A significant, contentious issue surrounds Chile’s anti-terrorism laws which many Mapuche believe exist to supress their protests and stunt their quest for land reclamation.
Four documentary works are presented as part of this year’s Spotlight and, while not conclusive, provide an engaging overview of the realities of Mapuche in contemporary South American society and their vibrant culture. The Spotlight’s two screenings are accompanied by a panel that explores the challenges and opportunities of Indigenous filmmaking in Latin America.