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Vermont International Film Festival › Films › Chiapas Media Project

Chiapas Media Project

Chiapas Media Project 10th Anniversary Celebration
Free and open to the public


Alexandra Halkin, International Coordinator of the Chiapas Media Project, returns to the Vermont International Film Festival to celebrate the project’s ten year anniversary.

In February of 1998, The CMP began as a result of conversations with autonomous Zapatista communities who were requesting access to video and computer technology. The Zapatista’s or Zapatista Army of National Liberation, are an indigenous movement made of up Tzotzil, Chol, Tojolabal, Mum and Tzeltal Mayan Indians. They became known to the world via the internet on January 1, 1994 when they staged an armed uprising and took over six towns in Chiapas demanding that indigenous rights be recognized in the Mexican constitution. Another demand was the formation of indigenous controlled TV and radio throughout Mexico.

Since 1998 the CMP has been working as a bi-national partnership to providing video and computer equipment and training to indigenous and campesino communities in Chiapas and Guerrero, Mexico. The emphasis has been in the area of video production. The Chiapas Media Project is currently distributing 26 indigenous productions worldwide.

Halkin is bringing work representative of the ten year history of the project, including:

“Song of the Earth” [16 min]
Tzotzil elders explain the significance of traditional music and the role of musicians in their communities.Various celebrations, songs and dances are presented including the festival of San Andres, the most important celebration of the year. Elders talk about the influence of western music and dress on youth and express their hopes that indigenous youth will maintain their traditions and culture. Song of the Earth demonstrates the strength of communities in resistance as they struggle to preserve their cultural heritage amidst the low intensity war and the allure of pop culture

“Water and Autonomy” [15 min]
Many of the indigenous communities in Chiapas have no access to potable water. Water and Autonomy looks at this serious problem and how the Zapatista communities are solving it. Through solidarity and training from internationals many communities are now building their own water systems. Members of the communities speak about ways the water project fits into their autonomous process, helps fight sickness, has provided a means of reflection for how to protect existing water sources and represents another means of resistance to globalization projects like the Plan Puebla Panama.

“Eyes on What’s Inside” [35 min]
Inez and Valentina, two indigenous women from the montaña region of Guerrero were raped by Mexican soldiers. Eyes on What’s Inside looks at the economic, social and political factors that lead to these rapes. The Organization of Indigenous People Me phaa (OIPM) share their story but it is really the story of many indigenous communities in Guerrero. Discussed are the destabilizing effects of the military presence on indigenous communities, and how the increasing poverty/marginalization of the population has contributed to the formation of armed guerilla groups and the presence of narcotrafficking. The Mexican Constitution lays out the internal role of the military and Guerrero presents a clear example of how the military acts outside of it’s constitutional mandate.

“Land Belongs to those who Work it” [15 min]
The video discusses the situation in the town of Bolon Aja’aw, located in the north of the state near the famous Agua Azul river system. The federal government sold the land in Bolon aja’aw to a private company to create an eco-tourism center without the permission of the community members. The video documents a meeting between Zapatista authorities and Mexican Government functionaries, and offers a critical look at the practical implications of so-called eco-tourism.