Throughout history, cinema has often perpetuated stereotypes and misrepresented Indigenous Peoples, their communities, aspirations, and wisdom. Today, storytelling still tends to prioritize narratives about Indigenous Peoples rather than amplifying Indigenous authors' own voices.
But initiatives such as the Indigenous Cinema program developed by Chirapaq (Centro de Culturas Indígenas de Perú) are working to bring Indigenous creators to the forefront. By providing equipment and building capacity in filming and editing skills among Indigenous youth in Peru, Chirapaq's workshops enable them to explore and shed light on the issues that matter most to them. The result is a collection of original and powerful short films that challenge conventions.
Among these talented creators is Sofía Chapay Marcos, a young Asháninka activist who recently presented her community's short film, "Noñantarí," at the International Funders for Indigenous Peoples Global conference. Translated as "what I really live and feel" in Sofía's Native Asháninka, it's a strikingly honest portrait of the profound violence experienced by the children in her community. The courage displayed by these young storytellers has sparked intergenerational reflection within the community, brought attention to the crisis of violence perpetrated by outsiders near Sofía's village, and resonated deeply with international Indigenous audiences.
The issue of violence against Indigenous women and girls is a global crisis, and films like "Noñantarí" are instrumental in fostering global solidarity among Indigenous communities. We are immensely honored that Sofía accepted our invitation to be interviewed for "Connecting the Dots." Her inspiring work, profound wisdom, and unwavering love for her community make this interview a very special one for us. Sofía's story is for her to tell.
Play the video version below (English subtitles available), or scroll down for the podcast version and the transcript in English.
I am Sofía Chapay Marcos. I am a young Asháninka. I am 20 years old. I am from the native community of Cushiviani, in the district of Río Negro, province of Satipo.
As young people, we established a partnership with an organization that supports audio-visual youth programs. It attracted our attention, the opportunity to get involved with them so that we can show what we actually live through, and what we feel, too.
We are now in a new world, with a new generation, where technology is within everyone's reach. My community is very close to the district, to a city. It's not exactly accessible, but most young people use cell phones. But even though they use their cell phones, they're unaware of what is really going on in our communities. The types of violence, the kind of needs we have.
So from there, we came up with the idea of making this audio-visual product. Given that our brothers are on TikTok, Facebook, and watch videos on different issues; why don't we show this? So that not only young people but also the authorities can see what we really go through.
And that's how the idea of creating the short film "Noñantarí" was born. It was in a workshop, in conversation, "Let's tell our stories. We each take our stories, and from that, through us, it will come up." Each of us tells a story like, "In my community, outsiders came and started plundering the trees. In my community, water is getting contaminated. In my community, we're losing our traditions, we're losing our language. In that family, that cousin or that sister is being raped and abused by their partner. Or that niece is pregnant because she lacked information, didn't get advice, or a friend that would say, 'Get informed about this. If you're going to start being sexually active, you need to know about these consequences that can happen if you don't take precautions.'
We all wrote our stories, from our own points of view and with our own thoughts. And with all these ideas combined, "Noñantarí" is born, which in my Asháninka language means "what I really live and feel."
This happens all the time in my community: From a very early age, we take on the role of mother; From as early as seven, if we're women and an older sister, we have to take up that role. The mom and the dad go to the chakra (the field where they work the land), they leave at 6 a.m. and return around 5 or 6 p.m. And during that time, we have to take care of our younger siblings. We have to cook breakfast, wash, sweep, clean, watch our little brother so he doesn't trip and fall, watch if he's going down to the river so he doesn't drown.
When people from outside come - we call them "los choris", the people outside our community that come to sow the fields, and many workers come to work here - they come to the community, where we are alone; we aren't under the care of an adult. That's when the abuse happens. They rape the girls. Not only girls, also boys, and it's very hard and happening in my community. And that's why we've decided show this.
RAISING AWARENESS, INSPIRING ACTION: ON SHOWING "NOÑANTARI" IN THE CUSHIVIANI NATIVE COMMUNITY
We wanted to have shown it sooner. But, because of the pandemic, we weren't able to show it straight away, and somewhere where everybody can see it and have it be seen by everyone. And it has just come out! People just realized there's this short-film that we directed.
Many of us identified with this short-film. Because many of us have suffered this violence and never denounced it. But we know about it, and it's like we became the voices of these girls who have been raped. Some identified with this, and were sad. For some, the elders, this is still taboo, showing these things. They feel a little uncomfortable. But we, our parents, the new generation, our youth, we still have this energy, with this positive outlook of "yes, we must show this." It doesn't matter how, but we're denouncing it.
And ultimately, within my community, there are also women leaders, and we had their support as well. And they have helped us in this process; they have been like advisers, like mentors, too, talking to us. And at the end of the screening of the short film "Noñantarí", they made a lot of comments, and many were positive comments. They encouraged us to keep going and said we shouldn't stop here, and more of this is needed.
And with this short film or this audio-visual product, we have found a way to raise awareness among people, among our youth, so they realize how important it is to be aware of the violence we suffer, of the cultures we are losing. It's like a call to action. For them to join us to continue preserving our culture and to know our rights as women, young people, and Indigenous Peoples also. That they continue to get informed, and teenage pregnancy rates stop growing.'
We should continue to raise awareness, offer support and help young women have a better life and a better future also. And that they themselves become aware and they themselves decide to want to change things also. But gradually. Obviously, it's not easy, no process is easy, but I believe that, through our ceaseless efforts and our energies, at some point - or I hope so! - things will change. That things don't stay this way. I want it to be better. I want my community to be better, I want youth to be better, and I want them to fulfil their dreams, because there are many dreams and many of them don't get fulfilled.
GLOBAL IDENTIFICATION, INDIGENOUS SOLIDARITY: ON SHOWING "NOÑANTARI" TO INTERNATIONAL AUDIENCES
When the video was screened in other places, and to people from different countries and parts of the world, they also identified strongly with it, because the same problem happens in their communities. And they said, "Wow, this also happens in my community, I also experience this, but I didn't find a way to show this problem." They congratulated us on the project because we showed how we really feel. We live in different countries, but we have the same problem, the same types of violence, the same things that affect us as young people and as Indigenous women too.
In these spaces, when the screening took place, I felt very happy, a little bit moved, because that's what we wanted to achieve. To have the world see what we have done and what we live through. I felt happy and kind of touched. At that moment, I wanted to hug my parents. It moves me emotionally, the fact that I'm here and talking about this, because this is something they've always fought for. And also because my mom and dad are my strength.
ONE COMMUNITY, MANY DREAMS: WHAT IS NEXT FOR SOFÍA
I want to inspire. My little sisters, all those that follow me. And that is what I am achieving, little by little. And later on, I also want to be able to support them. To be someone who supports them so that they can fulfil their dreams, just like me. And I know that I will get very far, I am sure of it. And when I get there, I will always return to them. I will be here for them, in the best way possible that I can, with all I can, I will be here for them. Because they've also been with me in the moments I have needed the most. Their smiles, their hugs. And that's also what drives me - my community, with them. And also that new young women leaders emerge, who keep raising their voices, because this is a very long road, but we must keep on, strong in our decisions.
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