The Chiapas Media Project is now a project of the Americas Media Initiative.
The Zapatista communities in Chiapas began recording video in the late 1990’s. Most of the raw, unedited footage remains in Chiapas. However in our office in Burlington, Vermont, we have all of the edited masters of the Zapatista productions from 1998 to 2008. We also have the edited masters and some original footage from the Chiapas Media Project collaborative productions filmed in Chiapas and Guerrero, Mexico along with scores of other indigenous productions from across the Americas.
In addition to footage from Mexico, since AMI began to work in Cuba in 2011, we also host copies of over 100 DVDs and digital formats of documentaries, animations, and short fictions – most produced by young independent filmmakers working outside of the traditional means of production in Cuba.
Video technology has advanced rapidly over the last 30 years. This means that footage shot in the 1980’s and 1990’s was recorded on formats that are now obsolete. AMI is in the process of looking for resources to professionally archive all of our materials from Mexico and Cuba. An important aspect of this work is to catalogue this footage and transfer it to a professional archiving format. This requires purchasing equipment that can play back these formats - VHS, Video-8, Hi-8, Digital8, MiniDV etc. - which is not only important for this project, but also for the communities and filmmakers who produced these materials. This material is irreplaceable and is part of the history of these communities and filmmakers.
The Chiapas Media Project (CMP) was an award winning, bi-national partnership that provided video equipment, computers and training enabling marginalized indigenous communities in Southern Mexico to create their own media.
Founded in 1998, CMP instructors worked in close collaboration with autonomous Zapatista communities. Indigenous youth with little formal education, and often working without reliable electricity, produced videos on agricultural collectives, fair trade coffee, women’s collectives, autonomous education, traditional healing, and the history of their struggle for land.
The Chiapas Media Project is remarkable! This project is a rare and powerful example of how indigenous people are using the weapons of technology and trans-nationalism to make their voices heard and advance their struggles. Not only are their videos wonderful teaching resources, but their presentations inspire students and faculty alike to rethink old ideas about indigenous cultures, and forge new ties of solidarity." Maria Elena Garcia, Assistant Professor of Anthropology, Sarah Lawrence College".
"CMP videos inform and inspire--the videos are gems. CMP presentations are lively and instructive, going beyond the background we need to understand the videos to provide hard-to-get updates on contemporary rural Mexico. We hear the wonderful stories behind the videos and learn about the process whereby video makers and communities interact to shape video story and imagery." William H. Fisher, Associate Professor of Anthropology, William and Mary College.
"The CMP presentation led our students to a place where idealism and courage confront injustice. It is evident that the CMP videos and the discussions that followed have had a long-term impact; students refer to the Zapatistas repeatedly. In times when young people can be overwhelmed with feelings of insignificance, we are grateful for the opportunity to challenge the cynical world fostered by commercial media. " Janice Windborne, Ph.D. Dept. Media, Journalism & Film, Southwest Missouri State University.
"The films have a powerful human component that you just cannot get from secondary sources about the injustices occurring in Chiapas and Guerrero. Bringing the event to the Fresno State campus provided a setting for exposure and learning that otherwise would not be present. It’s artistic and informative." Maria Sofia Corona-Solyluna, Fresno State M.E.Ch.A/USAS".
"CMP documentaries are an essential point of entry into the world of indigenous resistance. CMP videos accomplish their goal of telling the story from the perspective of the indigenous by implementing the concept of autonomy in their approach to video production. These documentaries are an irreplaceable guide for understanding the autonomous movement and why it is a workable alternative to corporate controlled globalization." Glen David Kuecker, Assistant Professor of Latin American History, DePauw University.
Over the years CMP has been funded in part by:
Angelica Foundation • Daniele Agostino Foundation • Chace Fund • Funding Exchange • Fund for Global Human Rights • Goldman Environmental • Foundation Global • Fund for Human Rights • Honor the Earth Fund • John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation • Joshua Mailman Foundation • Peace Development Fund • Reebok Human Rights Award • Riverside Sharing Fund • Solidago Foundation • Unitarian Universalist Service Committee • US-Mexico Fund for Culture Vanguard Foundation • William H. Donner Foundation