Killa: a Film for Indigenous Rights

A diverse approach to make indigenous peoples voices heard: talking about indigenous rights by using an indigenous language

May 18th, 2017
Sara Clausi, CD News

Killa —awpumukun (Before Moonrise) is the first ever feature-length film almost entirely acted †in Kichwa, the variant of Quechua spoken in Ecuador.

Directed by the Ecuadorian and indigenous filmmaker Alberto Muenale, Killa’s central subject is the harassment of many indigenous people and their attempt to stop mining, motivated by the deep bond they have with their tradition and their motherland. In addition to being a film of denunciation, Killa is mostly acted in Quechua, variants of which are all included by UNESCO in the ‘Atlas of the World’s Languages in Danger’ and ranked among vulnerable and critically endangered status.

Usually, the use of an indigenous language on film is something related to non-commercial cinematography, addressed to a limited audience and because of this, these films are not particularly influential in trying to save a language from its extinction. In the case of Killa, on the contrary, its director succeeded in producing a film that will hopefully have a broad impact; therefore will allow people to get in touch with an indigenous culture and tradition, and most importantly, will represent a significant step in preventing the disappearance of an indigenous language spoken by the people of Andes.

The production of Killa —awpumukun is a good example of how culture and cultural tools can represent an extraordinary resource in protecting human rights and in helping the safeguard of indigenous identity, language, and all those unique features that UNESCO calls “Intangible Cultural Heritage”.


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