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A Different Gaze: Supporting the Work of Indigenous and Afro-Descendant Filmmakers

A Different Gaze: Supporting the Work of Indigenous and Afro-Descendant Filmmakers

Crises reveal the critical role that the arts play in our social life. Adverse situations can often bring new collective narratives that help us to imagine more just futures, where solidarity prevails. Above all, supporting the voice and vision of community filmmakers working in diverse territories, allows us to envision what is still possible.  

The Miradas Fund, a $750 thousand dollar initiative launched by Ambulante and Netflix, was created with the aim of supporting over 80 productions by filmmakers impacted by the pandemic, benefitting close to 500 people. These production teams represent close to 30 indigenous and Afro-descendant groups, including the Zapotec Serrano, Totonaco, Mixteco, Náhuatl, and Purépecha first peoples. Almost 75% of these communities are in the territory that we know today as Mexico with the rest located in Belize, Guatemala, Honduras, El Salvador, and Nicaragua.

As we begin to gauge the effects of Covid-19 and how it has exacerbated other crises, we also begin to understand the immense difficulties that the film community faces. In spite of these challenges, filmmakers have gone above and beyond to continue creating: their generosity and commitment to their craft are the inspiration behind the Miradas Fund. Without filmmakers, who will weave the stories of the pandemic for posterity or make sense of our existence? What forms of knowledge, practices, and forms of organization offer alternatives that can build a more just reality, and not merely a “new normal” after this pandemic? Who will imagine the possibilities that also emerge from this crisis?

The Miradas Fund supports emerging, mid-career, and established filmmakers, whose work represents a variety of genres: documentaries, fiction, animation, experimental, among others. All these projects are currently being shot, or in post-production stages, and were selected by a committee of eleven experts, social leaders, and key actors in the field of regional community cinema.

The filmmakers identified by the Miradas Fund are bright lights on an alternate map that will guide us in the construction of other futures. Their work reimagines and reinterprets dominant narratives: the robustness of borders, essentialisms, and foundational myths. Their stories outline different ways of seeing the world and relating with each other and the planet, illuminating our present moment and the path forward.