By Carol Kalafatic (Quechua/Spanish/Croatian), Latin American
Program Assistant, FVC
Education and Production Center (CEFREC)
Calle José María Camacho, Pasaje Aguirre Nº 695, Zona San Pedro, La Paz, BOLIVIA
Contact: Iván Sanjinés
indigena.org/ (In Spanish)
www.apcbolivia.org (In Spanish)
The Cinematography Education and Production Center (CEFREC) was
founded in 1989 in La Paz, Bolivia. Its primary mission is to
facilitate technical training in film and video for the indigenous
peoples of Bolivia and to assist in producing and distributing
their work. The broader vision that guides CEFREC is empowerment
through increasingly sophisticated knowledge of film and video
steps into the gap left by Bolivia's social institutions in meeting
the communications needs of communities, specifically for community
organizing and educational and cultural projects. Indigenous peoples
who have worked with CEFREC in Bolivia have noted that, in the
current era of trade liberalization and globalization, the dominant
society has used mass media to flood indigenous communities with
commercial and cultural messages that are incompatible with their
lives. CEFREC and the media makers seek to counteract the messages
of mass media, which tend to devalue indigenous culture, and find
ways to harness media as a powerful tool for self-determination.
CEFREC has formulated a broadly based media initiative called
the National Indigenous Plan for Audiovisual Communication, Development
and Empowerment, Development and Empowerment, which Faustino Peña,
president of the Bolivian Indigenous Peoples Audiovisual Council,
calls "a 'dream come true.' . . . We see ourselves in the screen
and we are able to express our ways of life and our culture through
National Plan (which is completely independent of national government)
was established in 1996 with the goal of strengthening and giving
value to Bolivia's indigenous cultures, identities, and collective
visibility. It is co-coordinated by CEFREC and the Bolivian Indigenous
Peoples' Audiovisual Council (CAIB), along with Bolivia's three
primary indigenous organizations: the Indigenous Peoples of Bolivia
Confederation (CIDOB), Bolivian Rural Workers Sole Syndicate (CSUTCB),
and the Bolivian Settlers Syndicate Confederation (CSCB).
Bolivia has a population of about eight million people, approximately
seventy percent of which is indigenous, with thirty-six distinct
peoples (or tribes), yet these peoples are the most vulnerable
and marginalized sector of society. The National Plan aims to
strengthen Native self-representation by appropriating technology
to create indigenous peoples' own images. Through regular follow-up
and evaluation processes, the plan measures its impact and promotes
the idea of teamwork, ensuring the active participation of indigenous
organizations throughout the process.
the long tradition of community radio as a basis for its work,
the National Plan began with the establishment of a National Network
of Communication and Audio-Visual Exchange in more than 100 indigenous
communities throughout the country. The network serves as an autonomous
educational mechanism for intercultural development of Native
peoples. The National Plan has produced nearly seventy works in
its five years of existence, including the first series of "indigenous
fictions" produced in Latin America. More than a dozen of these
works were featured in the NMAI Native American Film and Video
to the Grass Roots
the use of a process similar to a "needs assessment" at the grassroots
level, CEFREC productions respond to specific community needs.
Therefore, the works range from pieces that expose the pollution
of lands and rivers to productions in which communities recapture
their own cultural expressions (for example, traditional healing
and food making practices, dances, music, and art making). Though
the works serve specific needs, they aim to create an overall
process of constant discovery in which viewers (and producers)
can pose questions and enter into dialogue with themselves and
others about issues that emerge from the experience of making
and viewing media.
works produced through CEFREC and its initiatives include documentaries,
fictions and docu-fictions, and "video letters" from communities
that want to share their customs and lifeways with other communities.
A recent project involved the use of digital video to create a
series of fictions and docu-fictions.
According to many indigenous media makers in Bolivia, fiction
has emerged as an effective means of re-creating and re-valuing
indigenous oral history, cultural identity, and heritage, especially
for the benefit of young people and future generations.
CEFREC has been working toward a production program that will
include a range of works in various genres and formats, adapted
for two types of distribution and use:
1) Within indigenous communities, through the National Network
of indigenous media makers
2) Through television broadcast to increase the visibility
of indigenous peoples within the broader society
is also the home of CLACPI (the Latin American Council of Indigenous
Peoples' Film and Communication), which was created in 1985 in
Mexico City to organize the Indigenous Peoples Film and Video
Festivals. The festivals include screening events, the awarding
of scholarships and other awards, and working groups in which
participants often produce collective statements and declarations
on issues of importance to them. The last of the six Festivals
took place in 1999 in Xela, Guatemala. Consultations are currently
underway to decide the exact location of the next Festival, which
will take place in Chile in 2002.
The participants in the International Forum, developed within
the framework of the Fifth American Indigenous Peoples and First
Nations Film and Video Festival, in the City of Cochabamba June
27th through June 29th, 1996, address the Nation States, multi-lateral
organisms and organisms of cooperation in order to express the
- The economic processes of development that are imposed on
our countries are accompanied by a collection of constitutional
and state law reforms which is affecting the ways of life of
our Original Peoples in terrible and impunable ways.
- That the projects implemented in our villages, besides mitigating
in unsatisfactory ways the effects of structural adjustment
policies, in many cases are geared to pacify, divide and debilitate
us, with the purpose of guaranteeing the transfer of currency
and profitable goods from our States.
- We think that it is not sovereign to apply policies that
oblige governments to deliver natural resources to large national
and transnational companies, especially when they prove to be
accomplices to aggression against our peoples as the front line
to the destruction of the environment, the life and the culture
of our peoples.
- Within this framework, we demand the recognition of indigenous
autonomy and territoriality in the exercise of the right to
define our processes of integral and harmonious development,
for which the following is fundamental:
1. Respect for indigenous peoples' traditional forms of political
2. Recognition of indigenous rights as the permanent means
toward the restitution of social harmony within our peoples.
3. Respect for our own ways of designing proposals for self
sustainability which respond to our realities.
4. That any economic or development activity aimed at our
peoples must have the participation and consent of our communal
assemblies, who must be informed of the socio-environmental
and cultural impacts caused by said activities.
5. That the States assume their responsibility to direct
policies and sufficient resources so that original peoples
will be the ones to determine the development of the intercultural
bilingual education system, the health system, indigenous
communications and the constitutional recognition of indigenous
6. The new development processes of our countries involve
the deepening of participation of our peoples in instances
of public power, for which it is necessary to urge laws which
allow direct representation of our peoples.
7. We demand that communications media permit the direct
participation of indigenous communities in order to contribute
to the recognition of and respect for plurality as a substantial
element toward the achievement of harmonious coexistence in
8. Finally, the participants in this Forum achieved within
the framework of the Fifth American Indigenous Peoples and
First Nations Film and Video Festival, established as the
Network of Indigenous Communicators of America, commit ourselves
to contribute to the processes of self-determination of our
The delegates of Bolivia and of all the countries and Indigenous
Cochabamba, Bolivia, June 29th, 1996.
Open Letter, Cochabamba, 29th of June,
Over time, Indigenous Peoples and First Nations have suffered
the theft of our "personal and communal spirits" through the use
of photographs and audiovisual cameras (film-video) which transport
our images to another space.
Our lives, our histories, our personages, our landscapes, our
rivers, our mountains, which are in turn part of our legacy, have
served as a source from which individuals gain wealth and prestige.
Indigenous Peoples and First Nations demand of the diverse countries
of the world, represented in their governments, institutions and
organizations, the RETURN of our images, the return of the representation
of our spirits reflected in films and videos.
We consider that filmmakers and producers will hear this complaint
from those who once opened the doors and that, through the respect
and dignity characteristic of human beings, will heed the voice
of the ancestors.
Especially those non-indigenous filmmakers and videomakers committed
to the indigenous cause, will be the first to carry out this demand.
For the preservation of our cultures
To keep our spirits in their essence
WE DEMAND THE RETURN OF OUR IMAGES!
PARTICIPANTS IN THE INDIGENOUS FORUM OF THE "FIFTH AMERICAN INDIGENOUS
PEOPLES AND FIRST NATIONS FILM AND VIDEO FESTIVAL"
All images courtesy of The Cinematography Education and Production
Center (CEFREC): Still from Qamasan Warmi/Women of Courage;
CEFREC production crew; Production shot, Oro Maldito/Cursed
Gold; Production shot, Qati Qati/Whispers of Death; Still
from Qati Qati/Whispers of Death; Members of CAIB (Bolivian
Indigenous Peoples' Audiovisual Council) during the production
of Tinkuy/A Glance; Production shot, El Diablo Nunca
Duerme/The Devil Never Sleeps; Ayllu Aransaya community members
during the production of Desempolvando Nuestra Historia/Dusting
Off our History