Sarayaku filmmaker Eriberto Gualinga received the award on behalf of his community.


A groundbreaking documentary about the successful international legal battle waged by an Ecuadorian indigenous community against their country for allowing foreign oil exploitation of their lands without their consent has won an award from National Geographic's prestigious “All Roads” film project.

Amnesty International and the Kichwa indigenous community of Sarayaku collaborated on the filming and production of Los Descendientes del Jaguar, a documentary about the community's journey from their lands in the Amazon rainforest in eastern Ecuador to the headquarters of the Inter-American Court of Human Rights Humans in Costa Rica to demand justice.

The feature film won the Best Documentary Award at the National Geographic “All Roads” Film Festival in its 2012 edition, held last week in Washington, DC

“We did not expect the award. I didn't know there was a prize. Being chosen among hundreds of films has been a great honor”, said Sarayaku filmmaker Eriberto Gualinga, who received the award on behalf of his community in Washington DC

“I have received many congratulations from the people who run the Internet. The congratulations will be more from person to person as soon as I return to the Sarayaku community. We will continue to apply to festivals. If I apply to festivals it is a way to spread our story to a wider audience.”

In a ruling made public in July this year, the Inter-American Court of Human Rights ruled in favor of the Sarayaku community, ending a long legal battle that began a decade ago, in the early 2000s, when a foreign oil company was authorized to invade their traditional lands without consulting the indigenous community.

The Inter-American Court ruled that the Ecuadorian State had violated the community's right to be consulted, as well as its right to property and cultural identity. It also ruled that Ecuador was responsible for having seriously endangered the life and physical integrity of the Sarayaku community when the oil company planted more than 1,400 kg of high-power explosives on the lands of the indigenous community.

Eriberto Gualinga, filmmaker from Sarayaku
Tue, 10/02/2012

The Sarayaku community is still waiting to learn about the State's plans to comply with the sentence.

National Geographic's award further recognizes the success of the Sarayaku community and will ensure that their story reaches a wider audience around the world.

"These awards, granted by a prestigious jury, distinguish the feature films with the greatest impact in the year but, as in previous editions, the selected films will represent some of the most impressive indigenous filmmakers in the world", said the director of the film festival, Francene Blythe.

Descendants of the Jaguar will be screened at various international film festivals before being widely released in 2013.

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