The Land of Many Waters.
Images from a Guyanese Journey

The Amerindians of Guyana decided against celebrating the anniversary of the discovery of America by Christopher Columbus, and since 1995 have instead remembered their own culture in an "Amerindian Heritage Month".

During this month I travel through the rough Rupununi savannah in the hinterland of Guyana. I visit two isolated ranches surrounded by (still) unspoiled nature and observe the festivities in the little Amerindian village of St. Ignatius. I clamber with Indians through the virgin forest and ride across the savannah, I find out about the various stages involved in crafting a woven hammock, I travel across wild rivers in an old Range Rover.

Through the eye of the camera the film makes visible the leitmotif of oppression and exploitation which began in colonial times and continued through independence to the present day, when international investors scour the land of raw materials and carry out bio-prospecting, neither of which benefit the people of Guyana themselves.

All this and much more leaves the inhabitants of a beautiful country, rich in raw materials and possibilities, in growing poverty and rage.

The festivities in St. Ignatius are the high point of the film. Various political and economic interest groups influence the cultural on the cultural events in the Amerindians' traditional meeting house.

The Canadian mining company Vanessa Ventures finances the first prize in a beauty contest, whose winner is awarded a six-month computer course in Georgetown, the faraway capital. A representative of the company crowns the radiant winner by exchanging her Amerindian headdress with a golden tin crown.

In a song an older Amerindian demands the return of authority over his ancestral lands.

Other Indians have organised themselves as a political party and are interviewed. And to rap it up the minister for Amerindian affairs, Vilbert de Souza, campaigns for a good atmosphere in the benab by playing the guitar and singing Spanish songs.

Germany, 2001
Director: Ernst Hunsicker
65 Minutes