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American Indian Movement of Colorado

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Thursday, May 11, 2006

"Trespassing" documents nuclear industry effects on Native Peoples

Brenda Norrell writes about the making of Trespassing, a documentary that focuses on the destructive practices of the nuclear industry.
When filmmaker Carlos DeMenezes filmed the Colorado River Indian Tribes and Fort Mojave Tribe's successful fight to halt the proposed Ward Valley nuclear waste dump, another reality was revealed: the cruel legacy of how American Indians were targeted by the nuclear industry.

The filmmaker's journey began when he left his native Brazil and came to Los Angeles to study film in 1982.

After gaining his degree and experience as a filmmaker, he searched for meaning in the industry: ''I did not want to only make money; I wanted to make something that means something.''

DeMenezes began researching the nuclear industry in books and film and soon found his way to Ward Valley, where American Indians and environmentalists joined together to fight the proposed nuclear waste dump. full article

The Ward Valley campaign is one of the actions covered in Trespassing. The Colorado Native Nations Alliance was instrumental in the success of the campaing.
It took 113 days and nights, risking arrest, and braving harsh weather, government threats and intimidation, but the long occupation of the proposed nuclear waste dump site at Ward Valley by Indian Nations and environmental supporters has ended in a major victory.

On February 12, 1998, hundreds of tribal members and supporters took over "ground zero" to defend the land and the desert tortoise from test drilling planned by federal and state governments as part of the dump project.

The Fort Mojave, Chemehuevi, Quechan, Cocopah and Colorado River Indian Tribes had vowed to defend Ward Valley against the test drilling which would have further desecrated their sacred land.

The Colorado River Native Nations Alliance hailed as a huge victory the announcement by the U.S. Department of the Interior that the controversial test drilling was canceled and that virtually all work on the dump project was being halted. The Interior Department had continued to insist that the Tribes and supporters leave "ground zero" in exchange for the canceling of the test drilling, but the Tribes refused to compromise. On June 5th, the Interior Department rescinded the eviction notice issued to the Tribes on February 14th, completing the victory for the occupation. full article located here

Trespassing recently received the Trustee Award at the Arizona International Film Festival. This was quite an achievement because the film has been refused screenings at numerous film festivals because it is deemed to "controversial".
''Trespassing,'' by Red Umbrella Productions, captured the Trustee Award at the 15th Arizona International Film Festival April 28, an award based on merit, which is not given out annually.

In the United States and worldwide, however, the film has been rejected by more film festivals than it has been accepted.

DeMenezes, in an interview with Indian Country Today, discussed the rejections.

''There are two kinds of film festivals: true independent film festivals and those who sell their souls to the studios and corporations,'' DeMenezes said after the well-received screening at the Arizona International Film Festival.

''Trespassing'' was rejected at every film festival in Canada, France, Germany, Denmark, Portugal, Australia, Brazil and Argentina.

''Sundance Film Festival rejected it twice,'' DeMenezes said. The film was rejected at some of the leading festivals: Los Angeles International Film Festival, Tribeca Film Festival, Hot Docs International Film Festival, Margaret Mead Film and Video Festival and the York Film Festival. Comments from these festivals' organizers were not received by press time.

The Barcelona Human Rights Film Festival in Spain was the only festival in Europe to accept the film. It received a standing ovation. full article

Click on the following link to visit the Trespassing website- Trespassing


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