The first Orange County screening of, “Huicholes: The Last Peyote Guardians,“ a film following the plight of the Huichol, an indigenous group native to Mexico, hopes to inform Fullerton College students on the threats this group is facing.
The screening was held at the campus theater on November 19 and hosted by the ethnic studies and anthropology departments.
The film, along with a few members of the crew such as the director, producer and the main protagonist of the film, Enrique Ramirez, are touring North America. They have held screenings in South Texas, New Mexico and Arizona and are hoping to head to Los Angeles.
“It [film screening] came together organically because so many people were behind bringing them to Orange County,” said Amber Gonzàlez, ethnic studies instructor and one of the event organizers.
The Huichol are fighting for the rights to their sacred territory, the Wirikuta. There are mining companies in Mexico who want to use the land for their projects. Such projects have the potential to severely harm the land and its resources.
The film, directed by Hernan Vilchez, follows the Ramirez family who show the audience around the land of Wirikuta and the rituals and spiritual significance tied to it.
“We made the [film] to raise awareness of different aspects of our reality, reality today is quite challenging, maybe in California you don’t check that,” Vilchez said. “Outside the U.S. it’s not so easy.”
Vilchez was introduced to the Ramirez family through a friend and was immediately inspired to represent their movement. Vilchez went on to talk about the environmental issues discussed in the film and hopes it will have an impact on the audience.
The film is shown completely in Spanish, but with English subtitles. The film features interviews with the Ramirez family, economic analysts and various indigenous rights workers.
“Exposing community college students to something like this, a culture so different than their own, can help students get a broader understanding from this,” said Daphnè Ruiz Moran, FC student and one of the organizers.
The film focuses on the conflicts the indigenous group is facing but discusses the overall connection the issues have with the global community.
“There are a lot of things that are brought up within the film that are specifically going on in Mexico, but the events that are brought up in the film are connected to indigenous issues through the whole continent,” Gonzàlez said.
Another major theme the film explored was the greater movement behind the preservation of the land of Wirikuta. One example of the movement shown in the film was the Wirikuta Fest, where big name Mexican artists come together to perform in a large arena. The festival is more than just music it brings people together under one cause, the preservation of the Wirikuta. The proceeds from the Wirikuta Fest go directly to the Huichol.
The screening boasted a full house with many people waiting outside demanding tickets even after the box office closed.
After the film, the spiritual leaders, along with the director, hosted a question and answer panel.
“I’m very happy to share our culture and documentary here. It’s important that people watch this and help us find a solution,” said Enrique Ramirez, the protagonist of the film.