PATROL - A DOCUMENTARY FILM A Project of Creative Visions Fiscal Sponsorship
Together we can save one of Central America's last intact rainforests
PATROL is a documentary film that follows a group of indigenous Rama forest rangers and an American environmentalist as they lead dangerous patrols into the virgin forests of the Indio-Maíz Biological Reserve in Nicaragua – one of the largest intact tracts of rainforest north of the Amazon. Their goal: to protect the forest from illegal loggers, land traffickers and cattle ranchers. After a powerful hurricane decimates the forest and their communities, the Ramas must take a last stand to save the vulnerable forest as they wrestle with the forces that threaten their livelihood, cultural survival, and ultimately, the future of the planet.
WHY THIS FILM?
The 2,639 square km Indio Maíz Biological Reserve in southeastern Nicaragua comprises critical habitat for a host of endangered and threatened species such as Great Green Macaws, Baird's Tapirs, and Jaguars. The reserve harbors one of the largest lowland tropical rainforests remaining in Central America, as well as Raphia palm swamps and seasonally flooded forests. Yet, deforestation in Indio Maíz has increased four fold since 2010, resulting in the loss of more than 2,500 hectares of primary forest, fueled by the growth of beef exports to the United States and Venezuela and a lack of government enforcement of environmental laws.
While Indio Maíz has been one of the better-protected reserves over the past two decades, land traffickers and cattle ranchers began penetrating the heart of Indio Maíz in 2015. If recent trends in forest loss and poaching continue, Indio-Maíz could effectively disappear as a core area for wildlife within 5 years.
The Indio Maiz Biological Reserve is more vulnerable now than at any other moment in recent history.
This film will amplify the voices of those fighting to conserve the last tracts of rainforest in Central America and contribute to a greater understanding of the forces behind forest loss. By putting a human face on the issue and offering an intimate, emotional look at how individuals, families, and communities cope with and fight against the destruction of their ancestral lands, we hope to touch hearts, motivating people to become engaged in the efforts to protect Indio Maíz.
The Rama Indians are descendents of the Chibcha indigenous people who migrated from South America to Central America around 6,000 BC. Enslaved by English, French and Dutch pirates fighting for control of the Río San Juan River in Nicaragua, their population dwindled to about 500 people in the 19th Century. Despite their prolonged contact with outside cultures, they conserve their traditions and live in relative isolation. In 2008, the government of Nicaragua recognized their legal right and autonomy over 4,068 square kilometers of land - now called the Rama-Kriol Territory - which they share in alliance with the afro-descendent Kriol population. Today, the Rama population is approximately 2,600 people, making them one of the smallest indigenous groups in the Americas.
Along the borders of the Indio Maíz Biological Reserve which overlaps with the Rama-Kriol territory, mestizo migrants from western and northern Nicaragua are advancing eastward in search of land for cattle ranching and farming. Like early Spanish settlers, they do not recognize the right of the indigenous population over the land, forcing their way into the territory and taking avantage of the lack of government action to protect the indigenous and afro-descendent populations. The illegal settlers – referred to as colonos by the Rama and Kriols – are sometimes linked to powerful cattle, logging and land trafficking networks. These settlers depend on the exploitation of natural resources for their livelihood.
In order to halt the illegal invasions into the Rama-Kriol territory by mestizo land traffickers and cattle ranchers, the Rama have formed teams of forest rangers to document the destruction of their ancestral lands and collect evidence against the illegal settlers.
ARMANDO, a quiet but thoughtful young man, and MARGARITO, a sarcastic but soft-hearted father of six, lead one of the forest ranger squads. They have teamed up with DR. CHRIS JORDAN, an American conservationist, who arrived in the Indio Maíz Reserve to monitor the populations of jaguars and Baird's Tapir, but quickly fell in love with the generosity of the Rama people and the incredible beauty of the Reserve.
In November of 2016, the rangers embarked on a dangerous expedition to patrol the southwest border of their territory. But five days into the jungle, they were caught in the path of a powerful category 2 hurricane (Hurricane Otto) and had to the survive the full force of the storm as hundreds of falling trees were torn down around them.
Now, in the aftermath of the disaster, they are shaken by the destruction but determined to fight on, as cattle ranchers, land traffickers and logging companies are becoming more emboldened by the lack of government response to protect the wounded forest.
Embedded with the forest rangers, we follow them – before, during and after the hurricane - on foot, horse and canoe into the depths of the forest, experiencing the drama, suspense and dangers they encounter in both the jungle and with those hiding beneath its canopy.
Interwoven with the narrative of the rangers is the intimate story of a family of illegal settlers who have moved deep into the jungle. They have deforested a large parcel of land in order to bring in cattle and are helping other families move into the reserve as well.
TERESA, a young mestizo woman, began clearing the forest in Indio Maiz two years ago. She alleges her family is in the reserve because they have nowhere else to plant the rice, beans and bananas they depend on for survival. However, outside of the reserve, she is a successful cattle rancher along with her husband LEONOL, who is part of a network of land traffickers who are illegally clearing and selling land inside the reserve. Unaware of the long-term damage they are inflicting on the forest, they are trapped inside an economic system based on the unbridled exploitation and destruction of the land. Through their lens we hope to uncover the factors motivating their actions – factors that are connected to a complex web of political and economic interests.
As the stakes are raised following the hurricane, an already tense situation begins to descend into chaos. The Nicaraguan government's continued inaction means the Ramas must strengthen their alliances with groups like the afro-descendent Kriols and mestizos that have lived there for decades, and develop new strategies to hold the line against the increasing number of illegal settlers.
PATROL will be an intimate documentary that will convey two conflicting visions of the world, not from the perspective of the powerful, but from the point of view of the most vulnerable communities on the frontline of the battle to save the last tracts of virgin rainforest on the planet.
The total budget for completion of PATROL is $205,000 + 10% Fiscal Sponsorship and Contingencies
Funds needed to complete production: $57,000
Funds needed to complete post-production: $85,000
Legal and Insurance: $8,600
Stock footage and licensing: $5,000
Finishing funds (Color Correction, Audio Mix/Sound Design, Original Score, Graphics, DCP creation, etc): $50,000
Fiscal Sponsorship Fees and Contingencies (10% of budget): $20,500
Brad Allgood - Director/Cinematographer
Brad is an award-winning filmmaker who has directed, photographed and edited many highly-acclaimed films, including the feature documentary "Landfill Harmonic," which tells the story of an orchestra in Paraguay that plays instruments made entirely from garbage; "My Village, My Lobster," winner of the CINE Golden Eagle for Independent Documentary; "120 Days: Undocumented in America," a CINE-winning feature-length documentary about an undocumented immigrant's last days in the United States; and "Songs from Bosawas," an adventure and music film that documents the first professional recording of Mayangna Indian musicians in the rain forests of Nicaragua. In 2016, he was awarded the Humanitas Prize for his work on "Landfill Harmonic."
While working for PBS Marketing and Communications, he produced broadcast, on-line and radio promotional campaigns for PBS programs, including the Emmy® Award-winning Masterpiece series "Downton Abbey," "Upstairs/Downstairs" and the American Experience film "Freedom Riders."
Before transitioning to filmmaking, Brad spent 3 1⁄2 years as a Peace Corps volunteer in Nicaragua. He holds a M.A. in Film and Video Production from American University and a B.S. in Biology and Geology from the University of Georgia.
Camilo de Castro Belli - Director/Cinematographer
Camilo is an award-winning investigative journalist based in Nicaragua. During his 8-year tenure with Esta Semana (This Week) - Nicaragua's most popular news magazine show - he produced more than 180 pieces about political, economic, and environmental issues. In 2008, he received the Pedro Joaquin Chamorro Prize -- Nicaragua's most prestigious journalism award -- for the hard-hitting exposé "Emergency in the Forest," a one-hour documentary about illegal logging in Nicaragua. In 2010, he received the prize a second time for an in-depth investigation about corruption in Nicaragua's Supreme Electoral Council.
In September of 2014, he presented a talk at TEDxManagua entitled "Bosawas is Life," which helped advance the dialogue surrounding the challenges facing the Bosawas Reserve. He is co-founder and director of CaLé Producciones, a Nicaraguan production company focused on documentaries that empower citizens and promote positive change within society. He was co-producer on the 2014 documentary "Songs from Bosawas," helping it become the longest running box office success in the history of documentary filmmaking in Nicaragua. He recently finished a documentary called "Sueños de Birrete" about the quality of education in Nicaragua. He holds a B.A. in History from Columbia University.
PATROL is a co-production of Fall Line Pictures and CaLé Producciones.