Filmmaker puts cameras in hands of indigenous youth in Panama

Brionna Lewis

Panamanian filmmaker, Anayansi Prado, visited CSUN to share her experience working with indigenous youth in Panama to create short documentaries about their communities on Tuesday.

“We were teaching them how to make films about their communities, their cultures, and their struggles,” Prado said.

Prado did this as a part of an outreach program with Wapikoni Mobile, a mobile studio that travels to indigenous communities and empowers them with the technology to tell their own stories.

She worked with the Kuna and Embera people that live in villages called “comarcas,” much like Native American reservations.

Prado said these communities have their own governmental systems and are highly organized.

“The goal of the training was to give the youth the opportunity to express what it’s like live in that area, and also to shed light on some of the issues they are going through.”

Prado said that filmmaking was a very new experience for many of the participants.

“A lot of our participants were young people who had never had the chance to use a camera or an editing system,” Prado said. “Their knowledge of media and filmmaking was very limited.”

The resulting films, that Prado showed, gave a glimpse into the daily life of these communities and discussed problems with outside government.

Malynn Catalan, a sophomore considering a major in Chicana/o studies came to the screening for extra credit for her Chicana/o studies class.

“I actually took a Central American studies course my freshman year,” Catalan said. “I took it because my parents are from Central America. I like learning more about my parents culture and what they are about.”

Catalan said more students should come out to events like this.

“I know there are many things that people don’t know and taking these courses and going  to events like this is an eye opener for students.”

Central American Studies professor, Freya Rojo, organized the event, as part of the Central American Indigenous Lecture Series, inviting the filmmaker to showcase her work to students at CSUN.

Rojo said that she met Prado through another professor at CSUN and she has come to speak a few times.
“She is very, very talented and we are lucky to have her here,” Rojo said. “Her work is very interesting.”