Alan Ereira helmed the BBC documentary, From the Heart of the World: The Elder Brother’s Warning 20 years ago. In 2010, Ereira is reconnecting with the Kogi tribe that he introduced to the world, except this time, they’re in control of the message.
The Kogi tribe from Colombia first crossed paths with Ereira when he was filming a BBC documentary in Bogota and an archeological ‘Lost City’ site was discovered, along with the tribe who occupied land higher up on the mountain. ‘I sent this message to them that if they wanted to speak to the world, I could help them,’ says Ereira. ‘I knew that they were very reclusive and had driven out filmmakers in the past. My message arrived just at the point where they’d decided and were waiting for someone to ask them that question.’
The Kogi, at that point, were certainly ready. ‘What they wanted to do was to express to us their terror at what we’re doing to the world,’ says Ereira. ‘At the end of that, they said, ‘Now go away and don’t come back, we have spoken.”
‘The last film was extraordinary because it exposed the world to something new, but it came at a time when the world wasn’t quite ready to listen to it,’ says Ereira. ‘It had its impact, but it was a push on a wheel that was only starting to slowly turn. Now I think the world is absolutely ready for it.’
Thus, Ereira is preparing Aluna, a new documentary combining footage shot by the Kogi tribe with material shot by Ereira’s crew. Ereira has let go of the reins he had in the first film, as the Kogi decide what to shoot. Members of their community have been trained to operate cameras and sound recording equipment. Ereia says he believes the finish date will be the end of next year.
The director credits James Cameron’s Avatar with bringing to the public consciousness some of the Kogi tribe’s concerns. When realscreen spoke with Ereira, he’d just finished watching the nine-minute trailer that the Kogi had shot and put together. ‘One of the most extraordinary thing in the trailer is a [clip] where they’re gathered around a tree, and it’s pretty much like that tree in Avatar,’ says Ereira.
And while the world may now be more ready for an environmental message in cinema, Ereira says the Kogi are more ready than ever to push that message again. This time, the tribe asked an anthropologist working nearby to call Ereira, who told him ‘they want you and they want you now.’ The director had to jump on a plane in London, and take a three-day mule ride to the top of the mountain to meet with the Kogi, who had come to a conclusion: the film they made 20 years ago did not work. ‘We have continued destroying the planet and things are worse, not better and they needed to find another way of speaking to us,’ Ereira says. ‘What they needed to do was to approach this very differently and show us what they were talking about so we can see it, not simply lecture us.’
‘[The Kogi] are trying to shift the basis of our consciousness,’ he summarizes. ‘They really are frightened and they feel responsible. They feel it’s our job to help us save ourselves.’