FDCL_Blog | Saturday September 25th, 2010
… Stephanie Boyd (pictured in photo left) director and producer of the documentary The Devil Operation. //
“Since the film’s launch in April this year, we’ve held grassroots screenings and workshops in Piura, Ayavaca, Yanta – a peasant farming community in Ayavaca affected by the Majaz mining concession – Cajamarca, Cusco and Puno.
Outside Peru, the film has had an explosive effect on audiences. At Hot Docs in Toronto, North America’s largest documentary festival, The Devil Operation received two standing ovations at sold-out screenings. Each presentation had over 300 people in attendance and the festival invited Father Marco to present the film. This August the film premiered in Asia at Korea’s prestigious EIDF festival, held by the country’s public television station. Theatrical screenings were held at three venues in Seoul, accompanied by a prime time broadcast on Korean national television, reaching millions of potential viewers.
The response has been overwhelming. People are shocked and angry at the abuses highlighted, but they’re also inspired by the examples of media activism in the film: GRUFIDES* counter-espionage campaign against their pursuers and the photos of police torture and abuse (photo left: people forced to sit blindfolded, hands tied behind their back on a platform where normally cattle (spanish: ganado) is sacrificed – click on the picture to see the large version) discovered by one of the survivors in the Majaz case show the importance of documenting and disseminating human rights violations.
During each question period we hear the same refrain from Peruvian farmers, to hip Torontonians to high-tech youth in Seoul: We need to take action. Canadian audiences are supporting a bill to make foreign mining companies accountable overseas. Koreans are publishing blogs about the need for corporate responsibility. Peruvian communities want to set-up communication self-defense groups, to document environmental and human rights abuses, and they’re asking us to help with training and contacts.
For example, the isolated provincial farming capital of Macusani, Puno, high-up in Peru’s southern Andean mountains, is divided over the presence of foreign mining companies, eager to purchase their land for exploration. Leaders from the provincial ‘ronderos’ (rural self-defense groups) invited us to screen the film and give a workshop in July.
“This film made my heart ache,” said an elderly rondero in Quechua. “But it’s the truth and it’s important that we know what’s happening. We ronderos have to unite and make our voices heard, because there are ‘hacendados’ (large property owners) here that are offering our land to the mine.”
Photo left: Marco Arana (Priest, founder of GRUFIDES and main protagonist of The Devil Operation) named The Devil by the spies. The rondas have a video camera, several photo cameras and some members who can use the internet. They’ve asked us to return and provide training in how to use their equipment and reach the outside world through the media.
The response from communities directly affected by the cases highlighted in the documentary has been even more emotional.
In Piura and Ayavaca, two regions that will be affected by the proposed Majaz copper mine, more than 300 people attended each screening, including over 100 youth and children in Ayavaca. Julio Vasquez (pictured in photo left) and Elizabeth Cuñya, two survivors of the torture, kidnapping and abuse at the Majaz mine featured in the film, presented the film in Piura and Mario Tabra, another survivor, presented the film in Ayavaca and Yanta. Moved by their testimonies and courage, members of the public stood up and reaffirmed their vows to continue the struggle.
We’ve been inundated by requests for copies of The Devil Operation and thus far have donated 200 DVDs to farming groups, educators, local media
Upcoming events include a special screening in Denver, Colorado, sponsored by the Denver Film Society. Mirtha Vasquez of GRUFIDES will travel to Denver to present The Devil Operation and receive a peace award from the Denver Justice and Peace Society in honor of GRUFIDES’ important work. In November the film will have its European premiere at IDFA, Europe’s largest documentary festival and the French-language premiere at Montreal’s RIDM
Thanks once again to everyone who has helped bring The Devil Operation to audiences around the world.
For more information, check out our website and facebook page.”
PD: The Devil Operation will be shown on Saturday, November 27 at Berlin’s One World Film Festival 2010. Stephanie Boyd will be present at the screening!
* GRUFIDES is El Grupo de Formación e Intervención para el Desarrollo Sostenible, a grassroots organization based in Cajamarca, Peru, and founded by Father Marco Arana in 2002. GRUFIDES promotes sustainable development through the environmental conservation of natural resources with a particular focus on respecting human rights.