The director of Ecuador's first Kichwa-language movie wants the public to know the plotline but also that the problems facing all Indigenous Peoples in this hemisphere are based on colonialism and a lack of sovereignty.
The movie Killa (pronounced keeja) premiered in the second week of March. It tells the story of a Kichwa (one of the Quechua related ethnicities) photojournalist who takes incriminating photos of a mining company operation and how "a corrupt government official takes ruthless steps to stop their publication." The local Indigenous community rallies in defense of their land against the mining operation and that leads to a conflict with government forces.
The website for the film describes it as being unique for several reasons.
“With this film we hope to demonstrate how our values and principles of maternal respect to the Pachamama (Mother Earth) can lead all of us toward the ultimate goal of sumak kawsay (good living)—respect, dignity, and cultural coexistence.
“Killa is the culmination of our community’s search for a cinematic voice. This ambitious project is the first feature-length film written, directed, and produced by Kichwa filmmakers in our native Kichwa language. As such, Killa breaks new ground as a project of self-representation, showing ourselves, our ancestral knowledge and practices from our own perspective.”
In an interview with ICMN, Director Albert Muenala, a highly respected Kichwa scholar and filmmaker, asserted that the theme of Killa is based on the difficulties facing all Indigenous Peoples in this hemisphere.
"Every day we are subjected to a process of continued colonialism that does not allow for the self-determination of the peoples; it has become common practice to auction and sell off territories to transnational oil and mining companies without prior consent of the first peoples," he stated.
Muenala said that this inequality and discriminatory treatment of Indigenous Peoples is constant in Ecaudor which is a country known for being multicultural but that "there coexists two different perspectives on life: one from the white mestizo government that is capitalist and focused on development and the other of conservation of Pachamama (Mother Earth) and all her natural and spiritual riches."
The director saw the reactions of the nationalities and mestizo audiences to the first showings in the cities of Otavalo, Quito (the capital) and Tulcan as “interesting”.
“The peoples and nationalities in Otavalo felt proud of seeing themselves being represented with dignity, which is different from how they are portrayed on TV that generally ridicules or folklorizes them,” he asserted.
“The Mestizo audiences in Quito and Tulcan left the theaters pleased to see another way of making movies that show realities that they themselves are not aware of in themselves too (racism), as well as seeing how the attitudes of the rulers played out,” Muenala stated.
He’s hoping that in response to the movie audiences will engage in dialogues that lead to understanding colonialism and finding alternate ways of obtaining economic resources without “violating natural spaces and their inhabitants which are usually the people and nationalities.”
Killa will be shown in other parts of Ecuador and Muenala is hoping to bring the movie to the U.S. and elsewhere through film festivals.