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joe emersberger

Joined: 24 Jan 2004
Posts: 513
Location: Windsor, Onatrio, Canada

Post Post subject: RIGHTS ACTION PROMOTES DOCUMENTARY FILM "Defensora" Reply with quote

Rights Action - June 3, 2012



Rights Action is pleased to partner with documentary filmmaker and activist Rachel Schmidt, and Executive Producer Lee K. Toepfer, from 6kidsProductions, to produce the documentary film "Defensora". The film documents the Mayan Q'eqchi people's struggle, in eastern Guatemala, to reclaim their ancestral lands, and find justice for the murder, shootings and rapes committed against them by a Canadian mining company and its subsidiary in Guatemala.

Some stories are very important to tell and "Defensora" is one of them. Film is a powerful tool that can be broadcast across the globe to build support for and a movement behind the Mayan Q'eqchi people and their struggle for their land and environment, and for their human rights and justice.

This is not just a Guatemalan story. It is a story that many in Canada and the USA are linked to through our government policies, promoting the expansion of North American corporate interests globally, and through pension plans and private fund investments in these companies.

"Defensora" is an independent, donor supported, collective film that we hope you will want to be part of.



(Check out the perks you get when you support this film)



By film-maker Rachel Schmidt

Defensora is a moving story about the ancient Mayan Q'eqchi people of eastern Guatemala, and our connection with them. The film documents the Mayan Q'eqchi people's struggle to reclaim their ancestral lands, and find justice for the murder, shootings and rapes that have occurred in their communities. Defensora is set along the shores of Lake Izabel, where tensions run high against a backdrop of violence, intimidation and a history of forced evictions from mining companies. The stakes are high for the Mayan Q'eqchi people who risk their lives to speak the truth and protect their land, and for the mining company who strongly denies their allegations.


As a filmmaker I believe it is my responsibility to investigate and uncover stories that may otherwise go unnoticed and seek to give them a national and global platform. A first step in ending violence against the Mayan Q'eqchi people is to turn the world's eye on their stories. Given the historic and deeply entrenched impunity in Guatemala, justice in Guatemalan courts is nearly impossible. Perhaps this film and our voices will help justice prevail in Canada where the mining company is situated? Maybe justice also resides in our humanity to stand together in solidarity with the Mayan Q'eqchi people? This is not just a Guatemalan story, it is a story that we are all linked to through big business, pension plans, investments, and human rights.


Defensora will empower the Mayan Q'eqchi people to speak for themselves. It will help to level the playing field between big mining business and small third world communities, and spotlight important human rights laws. Defensora will also examine if impunity is the norm in North America when it comes to holding large resource extraction companies legally accountable for human rights violations, environmental harms and crimes they cause in other countries. Most importantly, the film will build a community of support around the Mayan Q'eqchi people and the lawsuits they have launched in Canada.


We have raised $15,000 to date to fund a $60,000 production budget. Crowdfunding was responsible for 30% of these initial funds. This is our movement to create. We are seeking an additional $25,000 to complete production. The money raised will be used for another trip to Guatemala, production expenses, and the completion of a rough cut. We have several interested broadcasters who have screened our trailer and have asked to see our rough cut. So we need your help to get to the next step.

Your donations will be used specifically for travel and work expenses for Director, Rachel Schmidt and a cinematographer to complete production in Guatemala in mid-September; the rental of camera gear; the hiring of a driver, translator, and security while in Guatemala; and the hiring of an editor to complete the rough cut.

We have been accountable to our funders for every dollar we have spent, and maintain up-to-date financial records with receipts. This will continue through this campaign. We also have some fun perks to offer you for your contributions and support.

It's not all about money, we also need ambassadors for the film. People who care deeply about the issues and are willing to pass along this campaign through their online networks, groups, churches and community organizations. Or give us names of groups or funders you think we should approach. Feel free to use your imagination and passion to build a strong community of support around Defensora and the Mayan Q'eqchi people.


Rachel Schmidt is a Canadian documentary film producer and director. She is an activist at heart. Her projects have taken her across the globe where she has worked with human rights organizations to document important stories. Rachel's work on the front lines includes shooting in refugee camps in West Africa where she was detained by the military; to interviewing women world leaders at one of the largest gender rights forums outside of the United Nations in Bangkok; to filming in the Canadian Rockies. Rachel is also a documentary photographer who has photographed diverse world citizens and landscapes. She is the founder of the Women's United Liberation Front (WULF) and hails from the mountains in British Columbia.

Adele Hinkley is a passionate photographer who is motivated by the power of photography and it's potential to express and invoke human emotion. In 2010, she attended the National Geographic Expeditions Photographic Workshop in Santa Fe, New Mexico. Adele is deeply moved by the stories of the Mayan Q'eqchi' people and was part of the first trip to Guatemala in February 2012. Her photographs from that trip film will open in October 2012 at Hycroft Gallery in Vancouver, hosted by the University Women's Club Vancouver.

Executive Producer Lee K. Toepfer is an independent producer and the founder of 6kidsProductions. She holds an MBA from George Washington University, and brings a twenty-year background in finance to the 'business side' of film-making. Lee hails from Virginia and is the oldest of six kids, hence the name of the production company! She is passionate about producing meaningful projects and working collaboratively with talented artists. 6kidsProductions merges both the artistic and business sides of film-making to produce important stories of our times.


Tue Jun 05, 2012 1:18 am
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