Mapuche film series aims to open dialogue, defend ancestral knowledge

By Charlotte Karrlsson-Willis
Published On : Mon, Jun 9th, 2014

An 8th annual documentary series aims to create a dialogue about the Mapuche community, its traditions and its ongoing conflict with the Chilean state.

Mapuche community highlighted in annual film series. Photo by Solidaridad con el Pueblo Mapuche (México) / Facebook

Mapuche community highlighted in annual film series. Photo by Solidaridad con el Pueblo Mapuche (México) / Facebook

A month-long documentary film series presented by the Mapuche organization Meli Wixan Mapu kicked off Thursday. The group is hoping that the various pieces created by indigenous filmmakers and supporters of the community, will reopen a  discussion around the Mapuche people, culture and ongoing struggle.

“The objective is to generate a space for discussion and debate around the issue of the Mapuche, through films and documentaries it is much easier to illustrate the reason for our fight for land and the defence of our ancestral knowledge,” Manuel Díaz Calfiu, the manager of the event, told The Santiago Times.

Many of the indigenous Mapuche — Chile’s largest native group— have been at odds with the state since their territory was conquered in the 1880s. The modern conflict has manifested in arson attacks that primarily target larges forestry and agriculture companies in the Araucanía Region and the application of the country’s anti-terrorism legislation in such cases.

Mapuche groups have also sought to fight against the marginalization of their culture and language, which is not currently recognized in the Chilean constitution. Calfiu explained that one of the goals of the film series to shed light on the richness of the mapuche culture and how it is alive and well.

“Today the Mapuche community continues as a living community, we are not a static culture that can be put on display in a museum, rather day by day we are constructing and reconstructing the Mapuche world,” Calfiu said.

Calfiu also expressed the belief that his community’s culture is not something to be monetized. In keeping with this belief, the film series — which runs every Thursday from June 5 -July 10 — is free to the public. Instead of selling tickets, Meli Wixan Mapu is asking for donations.

“Those who attend are only requested to give a voluntary contribution, which can be in the form of a non perishable food item or money, if they so choose, which will support Mapuche communities,” Calfiu said.

The films in the lineup include powerful documentaries such as “ Calafate, Zoológicos Humanos” by Hans Mülchi which chronicles the taking of indigenous people from the Mapuche, Tehuelche, Kawésqar and Selk’nam groups in the late 19th century to become part of an anthropology exhibit in Europe.

On July 3, “Kalül Trawun — Mencer,” a film by Universidad de Chile Department of Visual Arts professor Francisco Huichaqueo, will be shown. The documentary investigates the Mapuche culture and the role that objects and art play within the community and within the community’s ongoing land rights conflict.

Several of the films also focus on the trials and cases of several Mapuche activists who are considered political prisoners.

This year the documentary series is being held in the Meli Wixan Mapu “ruka” or meeting place in central Santiago at Andes 2647 at 7:30 p.m. each Thursday. In the eighth incarnation of the event, the group is excited to promote dialogue and open up discussions of these long running topics.

“This year we hope to even further open up the debate over these themes present in the diverse films and documentaries, and with the filmmakers also being present, we hope the audience will be able to pose their questions directly to them,” Calfiu.

“We cordially invite everyone to participate in this new film series, we have mate, tea, coffee in order to share a pleasant program of culture, information and discussion,” he added.

Source: The Santiago Times

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