FILM

Pronunciation and Style Guide
ENCHUKUNOTO (The Return) [phonetic: en - chu - ku - noh - tohh]

Director
Laissa Malih [phonetic: lai - ee - suh ma - lee]

Community Partner / Associate Producer
John Ole Tingoi [phonetic: jon o-leh tin-GOI]

Synopsis

As the first female Maasai filmmaker, Laissa Malih initially set out to document the land-based practices of her forefathers and ways in which climate change is reshaping Maasai communities. In returning to the IL-Laikipiak Maasai village that her parents left when she was a child, Malih experiences an epiphany: her own life is a reflection of the myriad challenges between Maasai youth and elders, women and men, ancestral ways of passing down essential knowledge and modern methods of education.

In ENCHUKUNOTO (The Return), Malih’s singular perspective also challenges ways in which the Maasai peoples have long been seen and documented by tourists and other outsiders. “Many tourists come to our Maa lands to film the lions, the gazelles,” she observes. “The camera takes and takes. I wonder what my camera can give my people in return?”

Interweaving verite with Malih’s insights, Malih offers a heretofore unseen perspective as an insider and an outsider, a woman among men, a filmmaker carrying on sacred Maasai traditions of storytelling in an era defined by uncertainty.

Logline
Laissa Malih — the first female Maasai filmmaker — returns to the community her parents left behind in this deeply personal look at how the lands of her forefathers are being reshaped by climate change.

About Reciprocity Project
Reciprocity Project is a global storytelling movement supporting Indigenous creatives telling stories of hope, made within their communities, via film, photography, and podcasts.

Technical Specifications
TRT | 15 minutes
Aspect Ratio | 16:9
Color
Format | Digital
Audio | 5.1
Languages | Maasai; Samburu; English
Location | Kenya, on the ancestral lands of the Samburu and Maasai peoples.

FILMMAKERS

Director Biography
Laissa Malih is the first female Maasai filmmaker. Her work focuses on documenting, linking, amplifying, and scaling up youth and women's voices across diverse Indigenous cultures in Kenya and the world. Her 2020 documentary, RIVER OF BROWN WATERS, looks at the significance of the Ewaso Ng’iro, a river that serves as a lifeline for pastoralist communities surrounding Mount Kenya. In addition to film work, Malih has participated in international conferences and fellowships focused on climate adaptation and cultural legacy.

Artist statement
ENCHUKUNOTO was born from my own curiosity as a young filmmaker, an outsider at that moment heading into the Samburu and Maasai lands to document what sacredness and spirituality mean to the communities, and ways in which their relationship to land is infused in every aspect of the culture. Though I initially felt like an outsider, that feeling changed once I arrived, in ways that are hard to put to words. For one, I realized that I wasn't just there as a filmmaker but as a daughter of these lands, a storyteller from a different generation, much like my foremothers and forefathers were storytellers. Through this film, I was brought closer to home. I felt one with my community, my ancestors, my culture, my heritage — my roots. I left with blessings from the community, and I knew that storytelling was my destiny, just as it was for those who came before me. It's my fate and my privilege to tell stories of our heritage, culture, traditions, and lands, for my generation and for future generations.

About Reciprocity Project
In Season Two of this multimedia project, storytellers and community partners created films in response to a question: What does a 'return' to land, language, and reciprocal relationships mean to you and your community? Facing a climate crisis, the Reciprocity Project embraces Indigenous value systems that have bolstered communities since time immemorial. Reciprocity Project invites global Indigenous filmmakers to center Indigenous perspectives about the reciprocal relationship between all beings — seen and unseen — and the lands we inhabit.

COLLABORATORS

Nia Tero is a US-based non-profit working in solidarity with Indigenous peoples and movements worldwide with a mission of securing Indigenous guardianship of vital ecosystems. Nia Tero is committed to an antiracist and inclusive culture centering Indigenous rights, wisdom, practices, worldviews, and protocols.

Upstander Project is a Boston-based non-profit that uses storytelling to amplify silenced narratives, develop upstander skills to challenge systemic injustice, and nurture compassionate, courageous relationships that honor the interconnection of all beings and the Earth. Upstander Project envisions a world rooted in responsibility and respect for all where upstanders confront injustice and repair harm to ensure all beings thrive together.

REI Co-op Studios develops and produces stories that entertain, enrich and explore the power of time spent outside, while complementing the co-op’s broader climate and racial equity, diversity, and inclusion commitments.

PRESS & ACCLAIM

News

CREDITS

Coming Soon

For Series Credits please see the Season Two Press Kit

Zipped downloadable full press kit with photos will be available soon.

CONNECT

Website | Reciprocity.org

Social Media | @reciprocityproj | Instagram | Facebook

Podcast | Seedcast

Press Contact | press@reciprocity.org

Updated | February 14, 2024