We Women Warriors (Tejiendo Sabiduría): Film Review

We Women Warriors Tejiendo Sabiduría - H 2012
We Women Warriors(Tejiendo Sabiduría)/Facebook

We Women Warriors Tejiendo Sabiduría - H 2012

Of 102 native groups living in Colombia, officials say a third face extinction in the face of continued combat.

Documentarian Nicole Karsin makes a strong debut with this clear-eyed look at indigenous tribes struggling in Colombia.

Offering a pacifist definition of "warrior" in a land where the threat of violence defines everything, Nicole Karsin's We Women Warriors observes women in three corners of Colombia to show the extent of problems faced by indigenous communities there. Well conceived and unmanipulative, it will play well with auds attuned to its social-justice themes.

Karsin introduces us to three of the country's 102 official aboriginal groups, dozens of which face extinction simply for living on rural lands Columbia's assorted armed groups seek to control. The country's army, revolutionaries, and paramilitary groups (established to protect wealthy interests) are used to viewing anyone who isn't with them as against them, and the male populations in these communities have been devastated by attacks that made little attempt to spare neutral civilians.

In each of these three villages Karsin finds a woman who has stepped into a leadership role, whether doing so was a family tradition, as it is for Doris Puchana, or was a choice made by outside forces -- as with Ludis Rodriguez, a widow thrown in jail for a year after being falsely labeled a rebel.

The women lead in different ways, from pursuing the United Nations' attention to organizing a weaving collective. Flor Ilva Trochez, the first female governor in her tribe's 300-year history, gets the most dramatic moment here: After insisting the army end its occupation of her small town when soldiers kill an 11 year-old boy, she and other residents mobilize 15,000 people to peacefully evict them, calmly dismantling barracks sandbag by sandbag as rifle-wielding men watch in astonishment.

Though Karsin has no shortage of tragedies and outrages to recount, the film avoids sensationalism. Its articulate heroines have problems in common, but are just different enough in situation and personality to convey the breadth of difficulties faced in a nation that has been at war with itself for almost half a century.

Production Companies: Ida, Todos Los Pueblos Productions
Director-Producer: Nicole Karsin
Directors of photography: Diego Barajas, Daniel Valencia
Music: Jesus Quinones, Richard Cordoba
Editors: Cristina Malavenda, Gabriel Baudet
No rating/ rating, 82 minutes