DC Environmental Film Festival

Helena Sarayaku Manta (Smithsonian's Mother Tongue Film Festival)

Expired March 28, 2022 3:45 AM
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Curated with the Mother Tongue Film Festival; with promotional support from Amazon Watch

Includes a pre-recorded Q&A with filmmaker Eriberto Gualinga Montalvo and featured subject Helena Gualinga.

About the Festival: The Mother Tongue Film Festival is an annual international film festival of films with lesser-used languages from around the world. It is organized by the Smithsonian Institution in Washington, D.C., and has been held to coincide with International Mother Tongue Day on 21 February each year since 2016. It is run by the Recovering Voices program, a collaboration between the National Museum of Natural History, the National Museum of the American Indian, and the Center for Folklife and Cultural Heritage.

Traveling between her life in Finland and her mother’s homeland deep in the rainforests of Ecuador, 17-year-old Helena Gualinga yearns to protect her indigenous community from extractive development and the repercussions of climate change. Her story highlights the efforts of the Kichwa people of Sarayaku to recognize the Amazon rainforest as a “Kawsak Sacha - Living Jungle”. The “Living Jungle” is both a cultural philosophy and a proposal to governments that states the rainforest is not a resource to be used, rather it is a living and conscious entity in need of legal protection. With the help of her Sarayaku elders’ wisdom, Helena sets out on a journey to educate the world about the importance of conserving the Amazon Rainforest, traveling to New York City to participate in climate marches and giving speeches about indigenous sovereignty. A story of perseverance and resilience, Helena Sarayaku Manta, is an ode to indigenous communities striving to preserve their culture as they face consequences of a globalized world and the hastening effects of climate change.  

  • Year
  • Runtime
    70 minutes
  • Country
  • Premiere
    World Premiere
  • Director
    Eriberto Gualinga Montalvo