A documentary of the Huichol pilgrimage in Mexico
In 2003 ARC helped sponsor a video about the 400 kilometre-long Huichol pilgrimage route in Mexico. The documentary was called “The Path We Will Follow” and this is the story of how it was made, told by Humberto Fernandez of CHAC.
“The making of this video has a rather interesting background. The idea first came to us in 2003 to create a 50-minute documentary, as part of a campaign to tell the general public about the Huichol people and their pilgrimage route.
We realised that few people know how to take care of and protect the Route and even fewer know about its existence.
After several talks it was decided that we should initially do a shorter documentary, to illustrate the richness of the area and the problems it faces.
We began filming that summer. A small team - made up of a cameraman, a botanist, a producer, an assistant producer and myself – spent the following 12 months making regular expeditions to the three Mexican states through which the pilgrimage route passes: San Luis Potosí, Zacatecas and Nayarit.
It was rather difficult to get us all together as we all live in different parts of the country (even different parts of the world, since our botanist was from Spain). However, two years later we had all the shots we needed to begin production.
Indigenous Huichol people, especially the elders, played a vital role. They were the ones who guided us through the area, showed us where the sacred sites were and explained their ritual and cultural meaning and significance.
Hui-chill and other possibilities
Many things happened during those two years, some new ideas for the project flourished. One original idea – which we haven’t forgotten but haven’t yet found the time to follow through – was to produce a musical fusion between Huichol native sounds and relaxing contemporary music. We even had a name for it: Hui-chill. The Huichol were excited about the idea since they’ve been very creative at adapting traditional music to “corridos” from the northern area of Mexico and have been doing it for years now.
The key environmental message is to demonstrate how biological and cultural diversity are intrinsically linked. And the main purpose of the film was to promote our initiative, emphasising the concept of cultural routes and the value of walking trails – something that is ignored by Mexican society.
The aim is to show that cultural routes are a vital component of our heritage, and that they need recognition and protection just as historical buildings or ecological reserves do. This is why this video has been very helpful. We use it in conferences and presentations as an introduction to the problems, not only as seen by the Huichol people and their culture, but also experienced by the flora and fauna of the region, which need to be protected. The distribution of the video between donors and partners has encouraged its use as part of courses and workshops regarding conservation in Indian territories, at a federal level.
The first film was aimed at small, targeted audiences and it works well for that purpose. However CHAC is also aware that in order for it to have a real impact the audiences must be larger. Therefore in our future projects we include a second film, adapted for TV, and translating both films into English.
Links to other sites:
Huichol Sacred Sites and Landscapes, Mexico