In 1999, the residents of Tambogrande, a small town in northern Peru, learned that the Fujimori government had secretly granted mining concessions on their land to the multi-national corporation, Manhattan Minerals. The company's plans for an open-pit gold mine would involve relocation of half of the town's residents, and contaminate the soil and ground water in this agricultural region famous for its fruit orchards.
Aware of the environmental and health consequences of a gold mining operation in another Peruvian town, Choropampa, the residents of Tambogrande organized The Defense Front to protect their town. In TAMBOGRANDE, the producers of CHOROPAMPA: The Price of Gold (also distributed by First Run/Icarus Films) follow the Tambogrande residents' five-year-long struggle to thwart the Peruvian government's connivance with corporate plans that would despoil their land and destroy their livelihoods.
The film traces the history of the region, including the pioneering efforts of mango farmer Godofredo Garcia Baca, the leader of the protest movement who, beginning in the mid-Sixties, had helped transform Peru's northern desert into an important agricultural region.
TAMBOGRANDE also chronicles the changing nature of the protest movement, from its early, often violent protests and confrontations with police and the assassination of Godofredo, to the rechanneling of their efforts into peaceful protest and political action, using popular culture and technology - everything from dance and music to the Internet - to publicize their cause and to force the government to allow a referendum on the issue.
In telling this story of the starkly dramatic showdown between popular will and corporate interests, TAMBOGRANDE uses scenes of mass demonstrations, interviews and commentary from participants on both sides of the conflict, statements by national politicians, Manhattan Minerals corporate videos, archival footage, testimony from an environmental scientist and a Wall Street stockbroker, and the eyewitness account, by his son, of Godofredo's assassination.
In the ongoing history of attempts by multinational corporations to exploit Latin America's natural resources, TAMBOGRANDE is a rare success story, one demonstrating how ordinary people can defeat government and corporate collusion, and one that has already become an inspiration to other popular political movements across the continent.
"Striking... an extraordinary story of a small town, who against insurmountable odds and threats to life and livelihood, banded together and did more than keep the invaders at bay, but expelled them fro their country with a reverberating 'No' that the whole world heard." —Charmaine Henriques, Educational Media Reviews Online
2008 Special Jury Award, Youth Jury Award and Audience Choice Award at the 10th Encounter of South American Film, Marseille, France
2008 Honorable Mention in Egypt's Festival of Spanish and Latin American film
2007 Special Jury Award at Brazil's Environmental Film Festival, Bahia
2007 Union Latina prize, awarded by special youth jury, 12th annual Festival of Latin American Film, Trieste, Italy
Jury Award, 2007 International Festival Dignity and Work (Poland)
2007 Festival Internacional de Cinema (Portugal)
2007 Green Film Festival International, Seoul, Korea
2007 One World Human Rights Documentary Film Festival (Prague)
2006 International Documentary Film Festival (Amsterdam)
"A compelling account of how the global can become painfully local." —NACLA Report on the Americas