New training centre helps indigenous youth gain cultural industry jobs

One of the students takes a shot. Credit: IRIPAZ

A new audio-visual training centre has helped indigenous youth in Guatemala gain cultural industry jobs. The Guatemalan non-profit organization IRIPAZ (Instituto de Relaciones Internacionles e Investigaciones para la Paz) are behind the project for indigenous people, while UNESCO’s International Fund for Cultural Diversity supported the endeavor.

Partnering with the University of San Carlos (USAC), the project established a training centre and audiovisual course at USAC. Through it, Mayan, Garifuna, and Xinca indigenous participants learned audiovisual production, script writing, film directing, light and photography, camera work, editing, and postproduction skills.

They also learned about indigenous cultural rights, gender equality, and community capacity building. Internships at TV Maya provided students with practical experience. The training centre continues to organize free short workshops on intercultural audiovisual communications.

Graduates of the training centre are finding careers such as TV graphic director, community cultural mobiliser and cultural animator at the Ministry of Culture. Indigenous artistic teams are also producing short films and music videos about their cultures and sharing them on the Internet and social media. Local TV now taps their audiovisual productions, while some trainees have started their own communications business.

Indigenous groups are part of the rich cultural tapestry of Guatemala and represent roughly half of the country’s 14 million people. Despite this, they face difficulties in creating, producing, disseminating and enjoying their diverse cultural expressions.

Nik’te Fernández Saquick was one of 27 participants in the audiovisual training effort. The 19-year-old Mayan said of her experience: “I have learned to look at life from a different perspective and use the channels around me to tell stories.” Nik’te is a member of the newly formed Mayan artistic team that is also making a videoblog and producing a spot to raise cultural awareness among youth.

Through the project, the trainees remarkably produced the first-ever film by indigenous Guatemalans called Destinos Cruzados. The film was screened at the Icaro Film Festival in Guatemala City in September 2012. Meanwhile, a longer version, incorporating five musical pieces is in the works.

Participant Carlos Arana now produces music and video clips with other Garifuna members. The popular DJ said: “My community is benefiting a lot from the audiovisual sector. For now, we are focusing on music, as this is the medium our ancestors used to promote our culture. But in the future, we also want to make documentaries to help our children and youth learn where they come from, where they are, and where they are going.”

Xinca community mobiliser Claudina De la Cruz Santos said: “… in addition to teaching us technology, the audiovisual medium allows us to express our cultural identity … to express the realities of our Xinca, Garifuna and Mayan communities. We are only starting but thanks to the project, this important training opportunity has been given to us.”

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