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Heart Of Sky, Heart Of Earth
Home Use

Presents another worldview, following six young Maya into their daily and ceremonial life, revealing their determination to resist the destruction of their culture and environment.

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98 minutes
Directed by Frauke Sandig and Eric Black
Produced by Umbrella Films
Writer: Frauke Sandig and Eric Black
Editor: Grete Jentzen
Music: Arturo Pantaleón, Götz Naleppa, Zoe Keating, Sak Tzevul, José Luis Vaca "Chelo"

"An exquisitely, achingly beautiful film--wonderfully conceived and sensitively filmed" Allen J. Christenson, Professor of Humanities, Brigham Young University
The great cycle of the ancient Mayan calendar will end on December 21st, 2012.

How does the story end? Do the oceans collapse? Does the sky fall as the last tree is cut?

This is not our culture, not what we believe, yet it has an eerie resonance with what we do know and fear: the thin surface of the planet which holds all life is being destroyed at a terrifying rate and we seem unwilling to stop it. The end of the Mayan calendar is now part of our own manufactured mythology and New Age books continue to flood the market. But for the source of our demise, there is no need to look to the esoteric. The remote homelands of some nine million present day Maya in Chiapas and Guatemala present a perfect microcosm for witnessing how unhindered globalization is already destroying the Earth and consuming indigenous cultures, now under attack for their natural resources from all sides.

HEART OF SKY, HEART OF EARTH presents another worldview, following six young Maya into their daily and ceremonial life, revealing their determination to resist the destruction of their culture and environment. They put forth a wholly indigenous perspective in their own words. Each touches upon a facet of the current global crisis:

Chan K'in is studying to be the last shaman of the Lacandon Maya, living amongst what was formerly the largest and most biodiverse rainforest in North America, now an island of green in a sea of cattle ranches. "The elders are now dreaming in synch: the water will turn color, bringing with it the end of the current world." Alonso, a Mayan astro-archaeologist working among the majestic ruins of Palenque is obsessed the way his ancestors were obsessed: with time and space. It is he who makes the association between the end of the Mayan empire, the ending of this cycle of time and the impending collapse of nature today.

Chepita, in the highlands of Chiapas, is on a crusade to save the corn, the mythical origin of the Maya, from infection from Monsanto's genetically modified hybrids. The massive "dumping" of imported North American corn has unleashed a diaspora: The Maya cannot sell their corn, and even within Chepita's family, members have become part of a river of millions forced to migrating North. Jerónimo was a former commander of the Zapatistas: "Before we were faceless in their eyes. With banderas covering our faces, they now must see us."

Flori grew up in a state of constant fear after having had to flee the genocide as a little girl in Guatemala. Now she is returning to her native village where half of her family was murdered, to organize her people against a Canadian gold mine poisoning their environment and resurrecting the terror and trauma. Felipe became a spiritual guide dedicated to the ceremonies of his Mayan ancestors, first to save himself from drug addiction and then to heal his people.

Beautifully filmed, the intimate accounts of the protagonists interweave with images associated with the fragile beauty of nature and the creation myth of the Popol Vuh. Ruins of a former Mayan civilization stand in the background as harbingers of our own possible fate. The Maya, like many indigenous peoples, believe they are the guardians of the Earth. Their cosmovision, in which everything is interconnected, presents a deeply compelling alternative to the prevailing worldview.

With Josefa Chepita Hernández Pérez, Floridalma Pérez Gonzalez, Carlos Chan K'in Chanuk, Kajkan Felipe Mejía Sepet, Alonso Mendez, Don Antonio Martinez, Gregoria Crisanta Pérez, Maudilia Lopez Cardona, Comandante David, Jerónimo.

Grade Level: 10 - 12, College, Adults
US Release Date: 2013     Copyright Date: 2011
DVD ISBN: 1-93777-245-4

"In the vivid, colorful imagery of landscape, village life, and authentic ritual, all of it narrated in engaging and exacting language, we watch the old teaching the young, just as their ancestors taught them, not only about where their world came from but also how they can play a decisive role in determining its course. Heart of Sky, Heart of Earth offers all of us concrete lessons for all humanity to follow."
Anthony Aveni, Professor of Astronomy, Anthropology, and Native American Studies, Colgate University, Author, The End of Time: The Maya Mystery of 2012

"The film wisely downplays speculation concerning the ephemeral 2012 phenomenon and instead offers viewers privileged glimpses into the millennial cultures of extraordinarily diverse living Maya peoples...Maya from more than a half dozen ethnicities share their personal struggles to maintain their values in the face of severe racism, state-sponsored genocide, environmental degradation and cultural loss. The unflinching display of this cataclysmic destruction contrasts harshly with the staggering beauty of the Maya region and its still-vibrant human heritage."
Robert K. Sitler, Director of Latin American Studies, Professor of Modern Languages and Literatures, Stetson University, Author, The Living Maya: Ancient Wisdom in the Era of 2012

DVD $24.95

DVD Features
Subtitles in English, French, and Spanish, and scene selection.

The film's website

Awards and Festivals
Masters Section, IDFA Amsterdam
First Prize, Planet in Focus
First Prize/Pukañawi Award, Festival Int'l de Cine de los Derechos Humanos (Bolivia)
Audience's Favorite Award, Natur Film Festival (Germany)
Special Jury Mention, International Film Festival and Forum on Human Rights
Special Jury Mention, Festival Int. de Cine de Derechos Humanos (Argentina)
Special Mention, DocsDF (Mexico)
Festival de Cine Verde de Barichara (Colombia)
Dok Leipzig
Festival Internacional del Nuevo Cine Latinoamericano (Cuba)
Thessaloniki DFF
Planete Doc (Poland)
Cinélatino Rencontres de Toulouse
Documentarist (Turkey)
Istanbul Documentary Days
Which Human Rights Film Festival
Taiwan International Documentary Festival
Guanajuato International Film Festival (Mexico)
Addis International Film Festival (Ethiopia)
Vancouver International Film Festival
Mill Valley International Film Festival
ECOcine (Portugal)
FICMA (Spain)
Festival Internacional de Cine de los Derechos Humanos (Mexico)
Cinema Ambulante (El Salvador)
Amnesty International Reel Awareness Human Rights Film Festival
Boom Festival (Portugal)
Tofino Film Festival (Canada)
Environmental Film Festival in the Nation's Capital
Borneo Eco Film Festival
World Community Film Festival (Canada)
Semana de los Derechos Humanos (Costa Rica)
Cleveland Film Festival
Todos Santos Film Festival
Muestra de Cine Internacional Memoria Verdad Justicia (Guatemala)

... more Reviews

"Visually stunning...This film would be of great interest to students of anthropology, sociology, environmental science, Latin American politics, and filmmaking."
Jennifer Little, Associate Professor, Department of Visual Arts, University of the Pacific

"A beautiful, powerful, and often painful documentary...Within this film, Mayan voices bear witness to the catastrophic damage to human lives caused by powerful political agendas as well as unconstrained resource extraction. Confronting the greedy appetite of global conglomerates, we are forced to reckon with the violent legacy and continuing toll of colonialism in a place where beauty and brutality walk hand-in-hand."
Patricia McAnany, Kenan Eminent Professor of Anthropology, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, Author, Ancestral Maya Economies in Archaeological Perspective

"Indigenous Mayan worldview, music, art, and narrative are presented without external commentary in an outstanding film that is both moving and educational. The photography is magnificent, the editing outstanding, and the message concerning some of the forces that are currently at work destroying the earth for all of us, and for indigenous peoples in particular, is very timely."
Brian Stross, Professor of Anthropology, University of Texas

"It is quite possible our great corporations will succeed in finishing nature off and plant genetically modified corn over its burnt out remains. It is quite possible they will intimidate and expel the indigenous from their lands. On the other hand, resistance is growing. Many young Maya now read their calendar quite differently. They say the world will not go under. It will start anew, but we all have to fight for it, here and now. If one is searching for impressive evidence of this tenacious determination, Heart of Sky, Heart of Earth is it."
Thomas Assheuer, Die Zeit (The Times)

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