From the Ocean Across the Sierra

What is La Marabunta Filmadora?

La Marabunta Filmadora is a collective based in Sonora, Mexico, who use Participatory Video to defend territories, culture, rights and nature. The group is formed of Indigenous youth, women and men from Yaqui and Comcaac communities who have been practicing Participatory Video since they were initially trained by InsightShare in 2010. La Marabunta Filmadora was founded in 2015.

Since then, the Comcaac and Yaqui facilitators have been working in their communities and beyond, using video techniques and their own vision to create changes within and between communities.

InsightShare’s From the Ocean Across the Sierra project (2017-2019) supported the capacity building of La Marabunta Filmadora, resulting in an autonomous organisation who have now seeded several Participatory Video projects in the Northwestern Mexico region — and internationally.

“I felt strengthened when dealing with the issue of the defense of the territory against the gas pipeline.”

– Anabela Carlon (Yaqui facilitator)

Sharing video techniques for Indigenous rights in Mexico

During the period of the From the Ocean Across the Sierra project, La Marabunta Filmadors collaborated and co-created with seven Indigenous groups: Comcaac, Yaqui, Mayo, Yoreme, Makurawe or Guarijio, Tepehuano and Ralamuli from different regions of the Sierra Tarahumara. The work of La Marabunta Filmadora now covers Sonora, Chihuahua and Sinaloa.

Through trainings and participation in events, La Marabunta Filmadora has ignited many community processes aimed at territorial defence and bicultural resilience, and encouraged communities to use participatory media to become their own media resource.

A timeline infographic of the key developments in the history of La Marabunta Filmadora


How is video being used to protect people and land?

  • Construction of the Agua Prieta gas pipeline – by the US-based energy firm IEnova – through Yaqui-owned land began in 2016. Despite having their rights to the and enshrined in the Mexican constitution, no consultation process was undertaken and opposition went unheeded. Tribal authorities and activists faced smear campaigns and baseless accusations of drug smuggling, murder, theft and more. Participatory video has given the communities a right of reply in the face of abject corruption, and a tool to take back control of their own narratives.
  • Members of the Yaqui community received news in 2019 that illegal loggers were active in Vícam, Yaqui territory. They decided to implement a participatory video project to raise awareness of the issue and hold the perpetrators to account, and held a workshop directly at the riverside site of the logging. The activities were successfully halted as a result.
  • Pesticides are regularly dropped from aeroplanes close to the homes of the Yaqui, Comcaac and other communities, creating a chemical fog that is impossible to avoid. Since agrochemicals arrived in the region with industrial agriculture,  communities have noticed an increase in the occurrence of cancers. Indiscriminate use of pesticides in this way also has a dire effect on biodiversity. By using participatory video, communities have highlighted the issue, meaning that the concerns of local people are amplified.

Capacity building and self-determination through Participatory Video

La Marabunta Filmadora are now the leading Indigenous collective offering participatory video facilitation and implementation in Mexico and Latin America.

Not only have the team become experts in Participatory Video facilitation, but have also expanded their technical skills in organisational management, project development, implementation and reporting.

The collective have begun taking on contracts for their Participatory Video services, contributing to their autonomy and self-determination.


Solidarity amongst Indigenous communities in Latin America — and global movement building

At Participatory Video trainings in Mexico City and Veracruz, participants came from five different countries: Ecuador, Brazil, Guatemala, Brazil, Mexico and the UK. Representatives from the Indigenous nations of Tsetal, Maya and Amuzgo also attended.

Through these trainings during the period of the From the Ocean Across the Sierra project, La Marabunta Filmadora have created a new cohort of Indigenous and non-indigenous Participatory Video practitioners and facilitators including postgraduate students, activists and researchers.

Films from the collective were screened by Extinction Rebellion in London in October 2019, and were also shared with delegates at the Video4Change gathering of Indigenous African activists in South Africa.

Members of La Marabunta Filmadora travelled to Brazil to deliver a training in 2019, and to Ecuador as part of an exchange with Indigenous media, film and human rights collectives there.


“We want to learn more…We must be our own media resource in the community of Mogotavo, and no longer depend on anyone else.”

– Juan Cruz Moreno, Traditional Commissary of Mogotavo

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