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2022 | Film 7 MIN. | Wayuu

SŪKŪJULA TEI

(Stories of My Mother)

David Hernandez Palmar with Flor Palmar (Wayuu Iipuana)

During a visit to her sister Amaliata, Rosa, a wise Wayuu woman, teaches her grandchildren the importance of reciprocity within their culture.


See the making of video here.

LEARNING MATERIALS & DOWNLOADS

Artists' Statement

This film shares a memory of my mother's childhood, and I adapted it to recreate a parable of reciprocity through an everyday encounter of Wayuu People, visually inspired by the stories of Ramón Paz Ipuana, a great Wayuu writer. The mise-en-scene embraces the simplicity of everyday life with hints of Indigenous futurism that suggest that our future is a return to a community aesthetic. I feel that the camera is like a spirit that was also visiting the set. Making this film reaffirms that Indigenous Peoples can make movies and tell their own stories even under adverse conditions. When dreamers come together, we can achieve a beautiful result.

Caring for the Land, Nurturing the Language

LOCATION OF WAYUU PEOPLE

The Wayuu people are Indigenous to La Guajira peninsula in the northern regions of today’s Colombia and Venezuela.

Click here to see maps of the northern coast of the continent currently referred to as South America, highlighting the homelands of the Wayuu People and how the Colombian and Venezuelan borders were mapped on to La Guajira Peninsula on Wayuu land.

COMMUNITY

Like all Indigenous communities whose lives are shaped by five centuries of colonialism in the Americas, Wayuu people continue to experience severe cultural disruption due to the domination of state structures, policies, and an international border. These disruptions are simultaneously created and exacerbated by extreme poverty and education disparities, and help to explain a high rate of child mortality. At the same time, the intensification of climate change has resulted in increasing difficulty for Wayuu communities to maintain themselves in ways they are accustomed to. This includes the values of sharing and caring for each other even over great distances, as this film demonstrates.

Discussion Questions

  • The film opens with these words:

    Tradition is like a wise elder,
    as she sits on the road of days,
    she tells future generations what she has lived.


    Now that you’ve watched SŪKŪJULA TEI (Stories of My Mother), what do you think the filmmaker is signaling to us with these words?
  • How did you feel watching SŪKŪJULA TEI (Stories of my Mother)? Is there a moment that stands out for you? If so, why do you think it gripped you?
  • When we meet Rosa during her journey to bring food to her sister, she is protecting her skin from the sun’s harmful UV rays with Paypay, which is a sunscreen made from the earth. How did you react when you first saw her face in the opening scene? What, if any, assumptions did you make? What, if any, questions do you have about this practice?
  • There is a drought in the region and worms destroyed some of Rosa’s crops. Despite these environmental challenges, how do Wayuu people respond?
  • Viewers meet two female elders and four children. The words ‘aunt’ and ‘grandma’ are used interchangeably. What does this demonstrate about relationships and family structure in Wayuu culture?

Additional Resources

Downloadable Learning Materials

Learning Materials & Poster

Press Kit & Transcript

Behind the scenes

A women with dark facial paint across her mouth weaves a bright round basket

Flor Palmar as “Rosa” weaving in the Wayuu Community of Majali

Two women in traditional patterned dresses sit and talk while four men with film equipment record behind them

David Hernández Palmar (wearing dark blue t-shirt) and crew filming “Amaliata” and “Rosa”

Two men in face masks look at a small portable screen held by third man

David Hernández Palmar (right) monitoring the cinematography

A group of people films a man trying to knock down fruit from a cactus tree

Film crew in action as “Kushematai” tries to knock down a cactus fruit

A man in red shirt films a women in the background while two people watch over

David Hernández Palmar giving direction to the crew and “Jasai”

Two men film a women while she sits in front of a group of bottles

"Jasai” being filmed for a scene in SÜKÜJALA TEI

Critical acclaim for this film

Official Big Sky 2022 film festival laurel
Offical Skabmagovat 2022 film festival laurel
Official Cartagena International Film Festival 2022 Laurel
Official 2022 Environmental Film Festival in the Nation's Capital Laurel
Official Selection Independent Film Festival Boston 2022 Laurel
Māoriland Film Festival Official Selection 2022
Official Selection 2022 NW Folklife Film Forum
Festival Internacional de Cine Para Niños de México
Vancouver Latin American Film Festival
Official Selection Asinabka Film & Media Festival 2022
Official Selection 2022 Regina International Film Festival & Awards
Official Selection Local Sightings Film Festival 2022
Official Selection Chicago International Children's Film Festival
Official Selection Hot Springs Documentary Film Festival 2022
2022 image NATIVE Official Selection
SELECCIÓN OFICIAL IndiFest Festival de Cinema Indígena de Barcelona 2022
Official Selection Cucalorus Film Festival 2022
Official Selection Garifuna International Indigenous Film Festival 2022 web

"A touching, multilayered poem on the cohesion of generations, the strength of community, of family, of tradition - and the power of place."


-Maryanne Redpath