Virdi Samay (Life and Breath)

Life and Breath: Kichwa People Confront Climate Change in the Amazon,”
produced by Amazon Partnerships Foundation and Luna Productions.
Complete film in player above (with English subtitles)
Complete film with Spanish subtitles – click here
Short trailer – click here

This wonderful short film was a delightful multi-lingual, multi-cultural experience.  As far as we know, it is the first documentary ever made in the native language of the Kichwa people of Ecuador.  The production process was a marvelous melange of Kichwa, Spanish, and a smattering of English.  We videotaped for 8 days and remained for 3 months to edit in Ecuador, so as to have access to the very best local activists and translators, and in turn; the Kichwa people involved.  In a very real way, this is their story.  They got to have a real impact on the message and approach in the piece.

Kichwa  vs Quechua vs Quichua  

The spelling of a tribal language in the A-Z alphabet of the European romance languages is always challenging.  Scholars can debate, but for the locals in the Tena region when we made the film, the spelling “Kichwa” was preferred.  However, it is entirely accurate to say that the title of the film is also:  Life and Breath: Quechua People Confront Climate Change in the Amazon.

Amazon Partnerships Foundation (APF)

This Ecuadoran community foundation was set up and lead by Mary Fifield, a US citizen.  She believed that the actions of local tribal people to save the rain forest, as their culture had done for centuries but in 2009 with additional support by the APF,  was a vitally important ground-up response to global climate crisis and that a video highlighting that would be a worthy endevour.

Over 12 years later, as I write this, we agree even more than before.  The organization no longer exists, but the video still does; documenting both the APF and the people whose lives were touched by that work.

We have not been in touch with Mary for many years (hi Mary, if you are reading this send a shout out) but she shared an important moment in her life that is very much at the foundation of the organization and this film.  It was long ago she told it to me, so the details are hazy, but the essence was that Mary was in the US, in the midwest, when she read a profoundly convincing text, warning about the coming global climate crisis. It included a warning that Mary took as a challenge – that the next 5 years would be critical for the life of the planet as we know it, the last chance to prevent global warming before it would be irreversable – and thus too late.  To Mary, it was a calling.  She was persuaded and deeply moved.  She felt that if indeed the next 5 years were so very critical, that she had devote her own next 5 years of life to doing what she could for her planet, our planet.  Her choice:  to focus on saving the rain forest, the lungs of the planet.  Her method: to create a community foundation – working in support of local people with local solutions; making a difference on the ground in an immediate and effective manner, in harmony and in honor of local culture and traditions; which, as it turned out, become a very intimate task – changing the world one no-water toilet at a time.

More about the

Amazon Partnerships Foundation

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Film crew with Mary on far left

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