November winner of the Mirrors & Windows Film Award: “Arena” by Ricardo Leòn.
Imagine that the one thing that you have of value, that has provided your livelihood for generations and upon which your community depends, is taken and licensed to a foreign mining company. We are not talking about gold or emeralds or even avacados, but something as simple as river sand. What would you do?
“Arena” by Director Ricardo Leòn and Researcher Inge-Merete Hougaard takes us into the Amazon Rainforest to give voice to the residents of Brisas del Frayle, an afro-descendant village in Colombia.
Surrounded by sugarcane plantations, the village is sustained by the Frayle River, which constitutes a fundamental pillar in the village: supplying the local and regional construction markets with manually dug sand.
Through beautiful cinematography and Leòn’s presence during a critical moment in the community’s peaceful attempts to enforce their claim, the film allows the audience to empathically participate in the work, life and risks without imposing a specific message. Leòn’s use of citizen reporting blended with strong composition and good storytelling, connects viewers to the protagonists without pity or angst.
Like all endeavours worth taking, there is beauty in the lives and work he captures. He wants us to respect his subjects rather than pity them. These are not backward people desparately holding on to a trade that development has surpassed. These artisans have a valued product that is a natural element of their territory and that is the message.
Real Lives Indigenous Voices is proud to select “Arena” for the first Mirrors and Windows Film Award. For the next 12 months, the trailer for the film will be shown on Real Lives Youtube Channel: https://youtu.be/g4dhTwUIBp4
About “Arena” by Ricardo Leòn and Inge-Merete Hougaard
Brisas del Frayle is an afro-descendant village in Colombia, supplying the local and regional construction markets with manually dug sand. Surrounded by sugarcane plantations, the village is sustained by the Frayle River, which constitutes a fundamental pillar in the village; it is from this that they draw meaning and sustain their community life.
Fighting for their right to manually extract sand, the villagers have several times sought to formalize their activity, but without success. However, a competing mining claim is threatening their livelihoods and has now been granted a concession title by the National Mining Agency.
‘Arena’ follows the villagers as they mobilize and appeal to the government institutions, to defend their livelihoods and their fundamental rights to work, territory, cultural integrity and a dignified life.
About Mirrors and Windows Film Awards on Real Lives
Kids need stories that reflect their own experience as well as the experiences of others.
The phrase “mirrors and windows” was initially introduced by Emily Style for the National SEED Project. A mirror is a story that reflects your own culture and helps you build your identity. A window is a resource that offers you a view into someone else’s experience.
Real Lives’ believes that films form a large part of child socialization in today’s world. It is essential that they can see themselves in shaping their identities while being exposed to the many ways others express their culture.
Every month the Mirrors and Windows Film Award will be given to a film, documentary or fiction, that acts as a mirror or window into an underrepresented culture. Selected short films or feature film trailers will be shown on RealLives Youtube channel as well as Indigenous Voices IGTV.
To submit your film for consideration, subscribe free to Real Lives Youtube channel and send a link to your trailer via youtube message.