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Stolen Land
A Film by Margarita Martinez and Miguel Salazar
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For the Nasa indigenous community, a tightly knit and fiercely proud people, in southern Colombia, the land is their “Mother Earth.” However, since the European conquest, the Nasa have been repeatedly displaced from their land. Now they are caught in a crossfire between the FARC (Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia) guerrillas and the Colombian Army.

STOLEN LAND tells the history of the Nasa’s resistance movement, with Dec. 16, 1991 being a symbolic day for the Nasa when 20 of them died claiming their land rights at Hacienda El Nilo Plantation. The Colombian state admitted police complicity in the Nilo massacre before an international court in 1995 and prior to that pledged 39,000 acres of land to the Nasa over the next 3 years.

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The film shows that in present day they have received only one-third of the land, making it nearly impossible for their growing community to continue with their traditional agrarian way of life. After 15 years of waiting for their land, the Nasa block the Panamerican highway, demanding compliance with the Nilo agreement.

Their charismatic leader is Lucho Acosta, an imposing tactician descended from Indian warriors who hopes to “liberate Mother Earth.” He knows from experience that violence only breeds more violence but facing insurmountable odds, Lucho’s beliefs are tested to their very core as the government attacks with tanks, helicopters, guns and tear gas.

STOLEN LAND illustrates the decades-long battle over land, unfortunately commonplace among indigenous populations, which continues in a nation where less than 1% of the population owns well over half the land.

"Directors Margarita Martinez and Miguel Salazar document the Nasa’s use of peaceful civil resistance as they send a message to the government and guerrilla forces." —Epoch Times

"STOLEN LAND strikingly conveys the integrity and perseverance of the Nasa people....Viewers of this film will learn about reparations, civil disobedience, conflict resolution, land claims, land tenure, and Native American social movements. It could support a broad range of curriculum in the social sciences." —Educational Media Reviews Online

★★★ "Many viewers will hear echoes of the U.S. government's policy toward Native Americans in this Sundance-sponsored affecting portrait of the Nasa, focusing particularly on Lucho Acosta, a tribal leader torn between his people's devotion to peaceful protest and the inclination of some younger members to become more militant. ...STOLEN LAND effectively dramatizes a local crisis that serves as a microcosm of a broader age-old tragedy. Recommended." —Video Librarian

”STOLEN LAND is a remarkable and important document of the struggle of one indigenous nation to recover their territory. But it is more than one people’s story; it is essentially the story of all indigenous people today and in the recent past. ...We are lucky to have this particular struggle recorded forever. ” —Anthropology Review Database

2011 Society of Visual Anthropology Conference
2011 Havannah Film Festival New York, Special Jury Mention
2010 Hot Docs Film Festival

73 minutes / color
Release: 2010
Copyright: 2009
Sale: $398

Subject areas:
Agriculture, Anthropology, Conflict Resolution, Cultural Anthropology, Economic Sociology, Indigenous Peoples, Latin America, Latin American Studies, Law, Political Science, Social Movements, South America, US & Canadian Broadcast Rights

Related Titles:
Café: This intimate documentary follows an indiginous Mexican family through one critical year of life

Gabo: The Creation of Gabriel García Márquez: The story of Gabriel García Márquez, author of One Hundred Years of Solitude and Nobel Prize winner.

Impunity: What is the cost of truth for families damaged by Colombia's violent past?

The Siege: The story of the siege of the Palace of Justice in Bogota, Colombia in 1985. 35 armed guerrillas take hundreds hostage. Almost the entire Supreme Court ends up dead.

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