GARIFUNA IN PERIL
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In Garifuna with subtitles in English or Spanish (selectable)
Closed captioning in English or Spanish
A Garifuna language teacher, Ricardo, struggles to preserve his endangered Afro-Amerindian culture by building a language school back in his home village in Honduras, Central America. A business venture with his brother designed to raise money for the school’s construction becomes complicated by the expansion plans of a nearby tourist resort into indigenous territory. Historical parallels are invoked as Ricardo’s son rehearses a stage play about the Garifuna people’s last stand against British colonialism over 200 years ago in their motherland, the island of St. Vincent in the Caribbean. Naturalistically shot, with debut performances by nearly the entire cast, “Garifuna in Peril” makes its own history as the first feature film with the majority of dialogue in Garifuna, a language proclaimed by UNESCO as a Masterpiece of the Oral and Intangible Heritage of Humanity.
WHO ARE THE GARIFUNA?
The Garifuna are descendants of Carib, Arawak and West African people who live in the coastal regions of Honduras, Belize, Guatemala and Nicaragua in Central America. The Garifuna came to be in Central America after they were exiled from their homeland (the island of St. Vincent in the Caribbean) by the British in 1797 after nearly two centuries of successfully defending their freedom against colonization. Since they refused to submit to slavery, the Garifuna managed to preserve both their African roots and their Amerindian heritage, a fusion resulting in a unique ethnicity considered indigenous to the Americas.
Despite widespread acknowledgement in intellectual and educational circles of the richness of Garifuna language, dance, music and culture and the need for its preservation, the survival of the culture is at risk due to globalization, poverty, health issues, discriminatory land measures, and lack of educational opportunities. These challenges have taken a toll on the current generation of Garifuna and many have been forced to assimilate toward more mainstream cultural influences, giving less and less attention to their cultural roots. Local governments and the society at large in the countries in which the Garifuna live tend to ignore their plight and have yet to exhibit serious concern for the survival of this culture.
ISSUES ADDRESSED IN THE FILM
The film addresses, in some way or another, the following topics in the story:
VALIDATION OF GARIFUNA CULTURE & HISTORY
- This film has a majority of its dialogue in Garifuna language, offering a work of art that can be used as a learning tool as well as a positive model to encourage the younger generation to retain the language.
- This film touch relates a portion of Garifuna history, a source of educational enlightenment as well as personal conviction and identification with the Garifuna cultural legacy, which is very unique.
- This film portrays Garifuna cultural ritual in a positive light. There is a scene with a medicine woman (buyei) who serves as a spiritual advisor to one of the characters.
- This film contains 19 tracks of music by Garifuna artists, and is an example of the synergy of the arts and what can be accomplished by bringing artists together.
SOCIOECONOMIC CHALLENGES FACING ALL OF THE DIASPORA
- Literacy and Education. The films contain plots that about empowering minds and valuing education as a necessity for community progress that must be fought for.
- Land rights. The films contain plots that have to do with characters fighting for land rights and facing opposition from those who seek to take over the indigenous lands for profit or outside interest.
- HIV\AIDS. The number of people in the Garifuna community living with HIV is disproportionately high. This film models decision-making behavior that can combat the spread of HIV/AIDS.
- Women’s changing roles. The films seek to make women’s voices heard and show women in model leadership roles as a method of bolstering the role and acceptability of women playing a major part in all of the above challenges.
A CALL TO ACTION FOR PROTECTION OF INDIGENOUS CULTURES
- This film provides a vehicle for Garifuna culture to increase its visibility, opening doors for further work and communications by others.
- The issues of indigenous land rights and HIV/AIDS are universal challenges affecting everyone in the world. While this film relates to the Garifuna experience directly, the topics addressed can be identified to similar movements in other cultures throughout the world, thus providing a universal message.
- The film has received international media coverage and shown to audiences who had no idea about the Garifuna struggle, past or present. This film is an example of a method of how to bring attention to these struggles on an international and personal level.
- The film has served to stimulate and inspire others to make films about Garifuna and other indigenous issues.
Ruben Reyes, Writer/Producer/Director/Actor.
A Garifuna scholar and educator born in Tela, Honduras, Ruben has extensive knowledge of the Garifuna culture and history and is an expert in Garifuna language. He teaches Garifuna language classes in Los Angeles and also produces “The Sásamu show,” a weekly program of interviews on GariTV.com about Garifuna culture and issues in the community. Ruben is also the inventor of the Garifuna clock, editor of the first Garifuna Trilingual Dictionary, and designer of the Garifuna flag emblem. He has also translated the National Anthems of Honduras, Guatemala and the United States into Garifuna, and co-founded the Garifuna Museum of Los Angeles.
Alí Allié, Writer/Producer/Director.
Ali’s initial foray into the world of Garifuna culture began in 1993 when he worked as a volunteer in an orphanage in Honduras run by a Garifuna man. After developing friendships with other local Garifuna, he returned a few years later to produce and direct the fictional feature film relating to Garifuna culture and spirituality, “Spirit of my Mother” with an all Garifuna cast. The film premiered in 1999 and screened all over the world, garnering a distribution deal from Vanguard Cinema who released on DVD in the United States. It is in the collection of many University and municipal libraries. After more than a decade, the film is still often requested for international screenings and at universities.
Bill Flores, Additional Writer. Originally from Dangriga, Belize, Bill is the author of the play “Garinagu in Peril” which is a play about Joseph Satuye’ and is featured as a play-within-the-movie of “Garifuna in Peril”. Bill is a member of the Garifuna Writers Group in Los Angeles, and on the board of directors of Garifuna Hope Foundation. He is the author of the book “One Hand Can’t Clap”, a positive take about the future of race relations between Garifuna and Kriol in Belize.
Masterpieces of the Oral and Intangible Heritage of Humanity: Garifuna Language, Dance and Music
On May 18th, 2001 the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) for the first time awarded the title of “Masterpiece of the Oral and Intangible Heritage of Humanity,” to 19 outstanding cultural spaces of forms of expression from different regions of the world. The Garifuna Language, Dance and Music of Belize (supported by Honduras and Guatemala) were among those declared “Masterpiece of the Oral and Intangible Heritage of Humanity.”
This global proclamation emphasizes the importance of protecting this outstanding but endangered heritage – cultural spaces and forms of popular and traditional expression – and of preserving cultural diversity.
The oral and intangible heritage has gained international recognition as a vital factor in cultural identity, promotion of creativity and the preservation of cultural diversity. It plays an essential role in national and international development, tolerance and harmonious interaction between cultures.
The full text of the UNESCO Convention for the Safeguarding of Intangible Cultural Heritage can be found at www.unesco.org/bpi/intangible_heritage/backgrounde.htm
Past Screenings /
London Latin American Film Festival (November 25, 2012)
New York African Diaspora Film Festival (December 2 & 5, 2012)
Santa Fe Film Festival (December 8, 2012)
Best of the New York African Diaspora Film Festival (January 18, 2013)
San Diego Black Film Festival (February 3, 2013)
Los Angeles Pan African Film Festival (February 16, 2013)
Arizona International Film Festival (April 13 & 28, 2013) AWARD WINNER: Best Narrative Feature
Athens International Film + Video Festival (Ohio) (April 14, 2013)
Chicago Latino Film Festival (April 14 & 16, 2013)
Festival International du Film Panafricain (Cannes, France) (April 19th, 2013)
Langston Hughes African American Film Festival (Seattle) (April 19th, 2013)
Boston International Film Festival (April 20, 2013) AWARD WINNER: Indie Spirit Special Recognition
Worldfest Houston (April 21, 2013) AWARD WINNER: Golden Remi for Docu-Drama
Berlin Black Cinema International (May 11, 2013)
SALALM Conference (May 18, 2013)
The Sankofa Salons / African Diaspora Creative Industries Forum (Los Angeles) (May 25, 2013)
Garifuna Film Festival International (Los Angeles) (May 25 & 26, 2013)
Zanzibar International Film Festival (July 4, 2013)
Miami Premiere presented by GarifunaTV (July 11, 2013)
Belize International Film Festival (July 12, 2013)
Tour of Southern Belize (July 12-17, 2013)
Guatemala Premiere (Livingston) (July 18, 2013)
San Francisco Premiere presented by Beulah Stanley & Culture Productions (August 22, 2013)
CaribbeanTales Toronto Film Showcase (September 11, 2013)
Atlanta Premiere presented by Susan Arauz Barnes (September 25, 2013)
Capital City Black Film Festival (Austin) (September 27, 2013)
Cine+Mas San Francisco Latino Film Festival (September 27, 2013)
New York City presented by Teofilo Colon, Jr. of Beinggarifuna.com (October 2, 2013)
New England Festival of Ibero American Cinema (October 3, 2013)
Interrogating the African Diaspora @ Michigan State University (October 4, 2013)
Mesoamerican Mosaic at the Newark Public Library (October 5, 2013)
Muestra Internacional de Cine y Video en Defensa de la Vida y el Territorio (Guatemala) (October 7, 2013)
Central American Film Experience @ California State University, Northridge (October 16, 2013)
Festival de Cine de Bogota (October 16-24, 2013)
Tour of Northern Honduras (October 18-29, 2013)
Festival de Cinema Latino American di Trieste (October 25, 2013) AWARD WINNER: Audience Choice
Englewood International Film Festival (October 26, 2013)
Uptown Film Festival (November 9, 2013)
BronzeLens Film Festival (November 9, 2013)
Pitzer College / Transnational Identities Film Series (November 15, 2013)
Charles H. Wright Museum of African American History & Belize Garifuna Cultural Organization of Michigan (November 16, 2013)
Texas A&M University/Transnational Blackness Series (November 19, 2013)
University of Virginia & Student Organization of Caribbean Awareness (November 21, 2013)
Festival Cine//B, Santiago, Chile (November 28, 2013)
Bahamas International Film Festival (December 5 & 6, 2013)
Ventana Sur (December 2013)
Texas Black Film Festival (February 28, 2014)
Soka University of America (February 28, 2014)
Oakland International Film Festival (April 4, 2014)
New England Festival of Ibero American Cinema (April 24, 2014)