The sexual abuse of a child and his process to overcome the trauma he shares with his mother is the story told by the winning short film of the Historias por Contar contest. It was directed by young Cuencans Gabriel Zhiminaicela and Christian Espinoza.
The Embassy and Consulate of the United States in Ecuador, with the support of the Fundación de Ayuda por Internet (Fundapi), organized this contest that also included the training of documentalists and the financing of their projects.
Five short films participated in this contest and addressed various topics: the challenges of the artisanal fishermen, the victims of violation of the monster of the Andes, the contamination of the Salado estuary and the story of overcoming a coffee producer in Loja.
Each of these five groups was made up of a journalist and an audiovisual communicator. In June of this year, the US Embassy and Consulate announced the call for this program through social networks (@usembassyec) and the website https://historiasporcontar.ec/.
There were 220 applications. As part of the selection process, those interested had to propose ideas for audiovisual projects. From this entire group, the pairs of journalist-audiovisual producer were formed so that each one could be enriched by the knowledge and experiences of the other.
Each team selected a research topic and produced a short film for three months. They each received $2,000 to carry out their project.
The criteria that were taken into account to select the proposals were the following:
- That the project addresses very current problems.
- Focus on challenges shared by the US and Ecuador.
- That they are feasible to be executed in the duration of the program and with the available resources.
For three months, the teams received mentoring through monthly personalized virtual sessions.
From September 19 to 23, the American mentors were in Guayaquil to train the five teams in person. Then, a jury made up of investigative journalists, an audiovisual producer and a film critic chose the best short film, which was awarded on Friday, September 23. The winning short film will be presented at the Ecuadorian Film Festival of New York in October of this year.
In the second phase of the ‘Stories to Tell’ program, the teams will partner with universities in their hometowns, where they will have the opportunity to pass on their knowledge to journalism and film students and professors.
The ‘Stories to be told’ program offers the opportunity for cross-training: storytelling and audiovisual production for journalists and investigative skills for documentary filmmakers. Her mentors are Diane Tsai, a journalist and documentary filmmaker for the magazine Timeand Lara Stolman, also a documentary filmmaker.
Tsai, a Taiwanese-American, is a senior producer for Time. She is a producer of Firsts, an award-winning documentary series about 46 groundbreaking women, from Hillary Clinton to Serena Williams, which was named Pictures of the Year International Documentary Project of the Year. She is also a producer, cinematographer and editor for Evidence of Things Unseen, a short documentary from Ties Studios featuring an Iraq War veteran and former President George W. Bush. He is a graduate of Northwestern’s Medill School of Journalism and resides in New York City.
“I am here as a cultural ambassador with American Film Showcase, the United States Embassy in Ecuador and Fundapi doing a program together with Laura Stolman. I have been very impressed and inspired working with the teams. Their wide variety of stories, styles and forms of arrival and the level of reflection that they put into the stories and reports has been a great experience. We’ve had very deep and interesting conversations about how best to tell each film.”Tsai says.
In addition, each film, Tsai says, forces the viewer to take a moment to put themselves in someone else’s shoes. “And look at the life they live and their perspective of the world. I believe that it is very valuable to learn more about the world, to learn from other points of view, to have empathy with what other people are going through and to continue educating ourselves.
Lara is an award-winning film and television director, producer and writer. Her work has appeared in theaters, on Netflix, PBS, NBCMSNBC, AMC, VH-1 and the website of New York Times. She comments about ‘Stories to Tell’. “We work together with a team of documentalists and support with mentoring. Films are a very powerful tool for journalists and journalism working on social issues. If audiences can empathize with the characters in a movie, they can be motivated to act.”
The participating films
a body in the sea
Address: Gabriel Zhiminaicela and Christian Espinoza. Contest winner short.
Synopsis: Christian has just suffered a new emotional crisis, so he decides to embark on a surprising trip to see the sea for the first time. Once there, he hopes to overcome the rape he suffered as a child, leave his fears behind and assume his identity. Meanwhile, the vague memories of what happened are taking shape and incarnating in his present. So he decides to write a letter to his abuser in an attempt to confront him with guilt and talk for the first time.
Address: Michael Lojano and Gabriela Borbor
Synopsis: From the age of 12 to the present, Fátima has worked as an artisanal fisherwoman in the Anconcito commune. We will discover the challenges and insecurity that she faces in her daily work and how she has been surviving in an activity considered only for men.
Address: Lenin Molina and Ingrid Estrella
Synopsis: The Salado estuary, the arm of the sea that runs through Guayaquil from north to south, was, until before the city began to grow, the source of work for fishermen who collected oysters, crabs, fish and other products that supported their families during decades. Contamination is imminent.
but i have coffee
Address: Diego Paladins and Valeria Idrovo
Synopsis: At 78, Servio Pardo continues to grow coffee, as he has done all his life, on a small farm near Cariamanga (Loja). When he was young he migrated to another province with his family. He returned after six years to recover the family heritage and participate in the Taza Dorada contest, which rewards the quality of coffee production in Ecuador. Although he won the contest in 2016, lately he has not achieved the necessary score to succeed again. He has no technology or resources, his family is far away, he lives alone most of the year.
encounter with a murderer
Address: Galo Semblantes and Claudia Valdivieso
Synopsis: Despite having confessed to the rape and murder of more than 300 girls, Pedro Alonso López was released after fourteen years thanks to the Ecuadorian justice system. Edith Jácome fights to remember the Ecuadorian justice that freed the monster of the Andes, the serial killer who also killed his sister.