2020 OFFICIAL AWARDS

SAM VINDAL

AWARDS

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DIRECTOR STATEMENT

The world is on fire. I can feel the winds from my backyard in California fanning the carbon flames across the planet. I can also feel the forces of revolutionary social movements-- tree roots breaking through the city pavement. This wind and fire of people power is the only force strong, gentle and agile enough to work for the good of people and planet.

This short film, L'EAU EST LA VIE (WATER IS LIFE): FROM STANDING ROCK TO THE SWAMP, is named after one of those social movement's--the Indigenous led Resistance camp in Louisiana that's continued to fight the black snake pipeline.

The black snake is based on a Lakota prophecy that says an evil serpent will crawl across the land and poison the water before ending the world. The Bayou Bridge Pipeline is the tailend of the Dakota Access Pipeline that drew more than 12,000 people to Standing Rock. The fight is not over as the Bayou Bridge Pipeline and a plethora of other pipelines criss cross over Indigenous lands, leaving vast colonial destruction in their wake.

And then there is us and all the work before us. I know the road can only be made by walking (Antonio Machado quote). My miniscule strides are grounded in the knowledge that movement work must be guided and grounded by those most affected by the systems of oppression. Those closer to the problem know what needs to be done to bring about real change. There is no reckoning of justice without grounding our understanding in the Indigeneity and colonial violence of these lands. I also know that we are all better when we are all better.

I know that when she safe, we safe (Black Youth Project 100). It's clear that we have much work to do, many hills to climb. This film is one small step to protect the song of the land: a humble attempt of many comrades coming together in deep collaboration to make moving images for people power.

This film is an attempt to create an experience that invites you, the audience, to push beyond being a passive viewer sitting on the outside and invites you to join in the struggle and contribute by sharing the gifts you have been blessed with. So join us. Fall in love with the struggle and treat each other with the tenderness, joy and respect that you would your child, your parent, your lover, and your best friend.

SAM VINDAL
Best Director Nominee
Sam Vinal is a Director, Producer and founder of the Los Angeles based production company Mutual Aid Media. Sam's filmmaking career has taken him to Honduras, Canada and Zambia among other places. He uses film as a means to combine his passion for the beautiful struggle and the power of art.

Sam's films have played at the Sundance Film Festival, The Lumičre Film Festival, The Galway Film Fleadh, and the Chicago International Film Festival to name a few.
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6:00 PM
MON. OCT. 12
ROXY THEATER

INDIGENOUS PEOPLES DAY FILM FEST

L'EAU EST LA VIE (WATER IS LIFE): FROM STANDING ROCK TO THE SWAMP

PRODUCED by MELISSA COX

L'EAU EST LA VIE: FROM STANDING ROCK TO THE SWAMP follows water protector Cherri Foytlin as she leads us on a no nonsense journey of Indigenous resistance to the Bayou Bridge Pipeline (BBP) in the swamps of Louisiana.

At the film's opening, viewers are introduced to the Atchafalaya Basin, which was once a Maroon colony--a critical hub of Indigenous and black resistance. Cherri recounts her first-hand experience with the environmental destruction caused by the BP oil spill and how it devastated a local crawfisher man and his way of life.

This event caused Cherri to take a hard look in the mirror and ask herself--how did I contribute to this and what can I do to change it? It's in that moment that the fire of resistance is ignited and Cherri's life takes a sharp turn.

This seed grows into the L'eau Est La Vie Indigenous resistance camp led by a council of Indigenous women, including Cherri Foytlin and Anne White Hat. As the documentary unfolds, we get an on the ground glimpse into the 100+ non-violent direct actions that laid the base for the strongest resistance in Louisiana history.

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