An urgent message from Colombia’s mountains

The environmental warning of the ancestral Kogi people from Colombia’s isolated sierras keeps reverberating around the world.  It will reach the mountainous community of Topanga in Southern California this weekend.

The Kogi’s documentary film “Aluna” will be shown as part of the First Friday Screenings series of the Topanga Film Festival on July 7. The film delivers an urgent message about saving the world from environmental disaster caused by man-made global warming.

The film’s official website describe the Kogi as the “last surviving civilization from the world of the Inca and Aztec, and their cities are untouched by our world.” They live in the Sierra Nevada de Santa Marta Colombia, at an altitude of almost five miles, insulated by natural geography and other factors.

Arguably among the most active international environmental activists from indigenous communities in recent decades, the Kogi –a usually reclusive culture– took it upon themselves to make a movie in 2012 to raise awareness about the disaster that could visit upon humanity if the so-called civilized, modern man does not changes his ways that are ravaging the world.

To direct the documentary, the Kogi recruited award-winning British filmmaker Alan Ereira. In fact, “Aluna” is a feature-length sequel to the BBC’s “The Heart of The World: Elder Brother’s Warning” that was made in 1990.  This latter film show us an ancient Kogi tribe civilization–the “Elder Brother”–who emerge to offer their concern for people of the modern world–”Younger Brother”. Younger Brother was urged to change his ways or suffer environmental disaster. After delivering the warning, the Kogi retreat back to civilization hidden in a mountain in Sierra Nevada de Santa Marta, Colombia.

In “Aluna,” the Kogis re-emerge, realizing that their pressing warning had not fully sunk in. They also decided to share their secret sciences in a sign of their commitment to also share their burden of changing the world for the better.

Alan Ereira on production in Colombia. Photo: director’s courtesy.

“Aluna” held its world premiere at the United Kingdom’s Sheffield Doc/Fest, where it won Ereira a nomination to the coveted Sheffield Green Award. A regular collaborator of the BBC since the 1960s, Ereira has won international honors like the Japan Prize for his 1978 documentary on the World War I Battle of the Somme and the Royal Television Society Best Documentary Series award for his 1988 documentary on the Armada.

The July 7th screening a the Topanga Film Festival will be followed by a panel on indigenous people and land stewardship. The show and discussion are presented in collaboration with the Garifuna International Indigenous Film Festival.

In the interest of full disclosure, the author of this post will be among the panelists representing the Garifuna Film Festival.

For tickets and more information, visit the Topanga Film Festival website.

Now, if you cannot make it to Topanga, California the film is available online on Amazon, iTunes and Vudu in the United States. It’s also available for downstreaming in Africa, Australia, Scandinavia and Western Europe. Click here.

Check out the “Aluna” trailer below.



Author: Cesar Arredondo

Journalist with more than 20 years of experience working for English- and Spanish-language and bilingual news outlets. Winner of three Best of the West Journalism Awards and a recognition from the National Association of Hispanic Publications.

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