Our Heritage, Our Planet Film Week, an initiative of Hispanic Access Foundation, is celebrating its third annual virtual film festival from October 10-13, 2023 and this year we awarded five mini-grants to BIPOC filmmakers for projects that will be screened during the film festival. The award winning films tell powerful stories from the eyes of Latino, Black, Indigenous and other people of color with roots in nature, reminding us to uplift the nexus between human communities and the lands, waterways, and ocean we call home.
In addition to these mini-grantees, Our Heritage, Our Planet Film Week will also showcase a variety of films hand selected by a jury composed of creatives, activists, and personalities who work in cinema, culture, nonprofits and advocacy organizations committed to environmental justice and conservation work. The film week will include performances and discussions with filmmakers, decision-makers, and community members on a variety of conservation topics.
“It’s an honor to be able to financially support filmmakers of color through Our Heritage, Our Planet Film Week,” said Maite Arce, president and CEO of Hispanic Access Foundation. “Too often these are the voices that are left out, misunderstood, or deemed not as valuable on the topics of climate and environmental justice, when these issues impact our communities the most severely. We hope through our film festival, we’re helping to showcase filmmakers of color and elevate their stories, culture and heritage, but also start a dialogue between communities and decision-makers around the importance of engaging in climate action and policy during these events.”
Below is the complete list of Our Heritage, Our Planet Film Week mini-grantee awardees:
Film Description: The Shade Black tells the story of Tekena, a young adult (orphan) who lives in a community (in Port Harcourt) largely affected by soot due to the increasing activities of oil exploration and indiscriminate combustion of fossil fuel in the Niger Delta region of Nigeria. Tekena returns home from his daily hustle to the lifeless body of his grandfather after a long battle with lung cancer. His grandfather has been his sole caretaker since he lost his parents at a tender age. This story takes us through the journey of his grief and fight for change and survival. In his quest to put an end to the harmful effect of soot after losing his grandfather, Tekena soon discovers is in danger as those who benefit from illegal oil refining are willing to do anything to stop him.
Film Description: "The Matanza is an ancient tradition that, as far as we can tell, began in the small villages of Spain during a time when the Moors ruled the Spanish. Pigs were not only very cheap to farm, but the Moorish people did not eat pork as they saw it as an abomination. The Spanish, therefore, could feed entire villages by slaughtering a single giant pig and simultaneously rebel against those who ruled over them. The Spanish brought pigs and the tradition of the Matanza to Mexico sometime in the mid 16th century and the Matanza remains an important communal event for Hispanic families to this day. My film will provide a brief historical background on the Matanza but will mainly focus on how Spanish families continue to utilize this ancient tradition to maintain community, culture, and heritage. The film will provide viewers a detailed look at the process of the Matanza, so they can perform their own Matanzas with family and friends. My intent is to provide a tangible tool that our people can use to keep this important tradition alive for generations to come."
Kristina Andrez and Alejandra Quiroz
Film Description: Ahari, a DACA recipient from Honduras set off on a vacation to San Juan, Puerto Rico, only to face an unforeseen turn of events. An emergency landing in the Dominican Republic, where he crossed paths with Yamaris, a young Dominican woman who dreamed of a better life. Together, they embarked on a journey to escape the island and to reach American territory, forcing them to learn from one another. Through the eyes of Yamaris, Ahari discovered a newfound appreciation for his own culture and heritage. Some believe that the emergency landing was more than just a coincidence, but a divine intervention from the ancestral gods, meant to guide Ahari back to his roots.
Film Description: Criaturitas is a series of short animated films that share the story of five insects affected by different aspects of climate change. These films are both in Spanish and English and are told in a folkloric style to expand the audience from adult to children. These short films and stories are meant to engage intergenerational audiences that relate to the climate crisis in various cinema capacities. The decision to focus on insects instead of people, animals, or habitats is to provide an emphasis on the essential role insects have. This film is also meant to remove some fear and stigma away from insects and really express their importance to our ecosystems.
Shley Suarez-Burgos and Fabiola Torres-Toledo
Film Description: "La Voz en Nuestra Manos" is a Spanish short film highlighting Puerto Rico's deaf community's experience with the environment and accessibility. Featuring deaf people from different backgrounds that connect with natural spaces in their own unique way. The film will follow members of the deaf community, and supportive organizations that will teach us about the culture, experiences, and accessibility and inaccessibility that comes for this community in the outdoors. Unfortunately, deaf people in Puerto Rico are a marginalized community that lacks access to a wide range of topics; climate change, environmental health, laws, policies, weather, day to day news, and so much more - mainly due to not providing the proper interpretation tools to include this community in the conversation for subjects that affect them.