The Amazon Changers – Cook to Empower | 2019

Runtime: 54:48
Country: Ecuador
Language: English, German, Spanish, Swiss German
Category: 2019 | Feature Films/Full-length Documentaries (2019)

For our documentary, we accompanied an extraordinary development project: "Cuisine sans frontières" ("Chefs without Borders") set up a floating school for indigenous communities in Ecuador’s Amazon. The goal of the project is a fundamental change. It proposes a shift from an economy based on extractivism to one that helps preserve the environment. And a shift from the oppression of indigenous communities to their empowerment. "Cuisine sans frontières" ("Cooks without Borders") "You can produce happiness with cooking and eating," David Höner, the founder of the Swiss NGO, is convinced. "On this basis, bridges can be built to bring adversary groups back into dialogue."
The floating school on the Rio Napo is the latest and probably most complex project of Cuisine sans frontières. For outsiders, the tensions in Ecuador’s Amazon are not immediately visible. But the difficulties are revealed in the pumping noise of rusty oil pipelines, in flames of flared methane, industrial plants in the middle of the jungle, fenced with barbed wire, as well as in alcoholism, disillusion, and fights between different indigenous groups.
Höners vision is not only to empower indigenous communities for self-determination, but also an economically and ecologically sustainable tourism region, which is managed by themselves. He is currently establishing a network of hotels, eco-lodges and companies to enable his best students to enter the labour market and to provide alternatives to oil jobs. In the main town El Coca he wants to set up a booking centre through which indigenous people can independently market their communal ecotourism projects along the Rio Napo – coupled with a market for local products.
"To a certain degree this will contribute to the `Disneylandisation` of the Amazon," admits Höner. But he sees no better alternative: "Either the indigenous people will become part of globalization through tourism, or they will be exterminated by it."
Esther Petsche, Director, – The Climate Changers –
Samuel Schlaefli, Director, – The Climate Changers –
Samuel Schlaefli, Writer, – The Climate Changers –
Esther Petsche, Producer, – The Climate Changers –
Samuel schlaefli, Producer, – The Climate Changers –
Barnaby Hall, Music, Pizza Verde, Shortly After Dusk
Esther Petsche, Editing, – The Climate Changers –
Katja Reichenstein, Voice
Garifuna International Indigenous Film Festival
Los Angeles
United States
May 24, 2019
North American Premiere
Official Selection
ECOador Festival Internacional de Cine Ambiental
South American Premiere
Official Selection
Quetzalcoatl Indigenous International Film Festival
July 1, 2019
Official Selection
Benicia Film Festival
United States
September 7, 2019
Official Selection

Esther Petsche

Samuel Schlaefli (1979) works as a freelance journalist in Switzerland. He has studied journalism and sociology in Basel, Winterthur, Hamburg and La Réunion. He has over 10 years of experience in working for newspapers, magazines and online media. As a freelance journalist he has focused on environmental and social topics as well as on urban development. He has worked for GEO, Greenpeace, ETH Zürich, TagesWoche, OurWorld 2.0, Globetrotter and Transhelvetica. He has reported from Switzerland, France, the Indian Ocean, Ethiopia, South Africa, USA and the Middle East.
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Esther Petsche (1973) works as a freelance graphic designer and filmmaker in Switzerland. After studying fashion design at the academy of arts in Germany she worked as an costume assistant at the Zurich Opera under the guidance of Robert Wilson. As a cultural manager for the «Unternehmen Mitte», a cultural space in the heart of Basel, she was responsible for the design and production of exhibitions, lectures and the overall public image of the house. During her 9 years as the responsible for the program, Esther and Samuel have collaborated several times for exhibitions and presentations at «Unternehmen Mitte». Nowadays Esther focuses on cutting, producing and directing films on environment and nature.

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