Indigenous Chilean filmmaker receives international award

Mapuche filmmaker Jeannette Paillán was awarded the Bartolomé de las Casas award for her work defending indigenous peoples across the Americas.

Artists and filmmakers generally look forward to the big, glitzy award events — the Oscars, the Goyas, etc. However, there are other recognitions that can often mean far more than the flashy, press-heavy prizes — awards that recognize an artist’s work as having a great impact on the wider world.

The Bartolomé de las Casas is one such award. Named for the historical 16th Century Spanish friar and social reformer who spoke out on behalf of natives in the colonial Americas, the award was established in 1991 to honor those whose work strives to defend and promote the rights of indigenous peoples across the Americas. This year’s recipient is Chilean filmmaker Jeannette Paillán, a member of the indigenous Mapuche community.

Known for her documentaries Wallmapu (2002) and Punalka: El Alto Biobio (1995), Paillán seeks to share the story of the Mapuche people of Chile, their historical struggles, leaders, and achievements. A journalist from the Universidad de Chile, Paillán also founded Lulul Mawidha, and indigenous communication organization. She is currently serving as the president of the Latin American Coordination of Film and Communication for Indigenous Communities (CLACPI).

The activist filmmaker said this honor is about something greater than her own personal work.

“The award is a recognition of the work of all of the filmmakers, directors, journalists and communicators that have understood that communication is a fundamental tool for creating our own and just image of the indigenous communities, strengthen our ties as brothers and sisters, and share with the public the importance of indigenous issues and our vision of how to contribute to its social construction,” Paillán said.

Paillán will receive the award at a ceremony in Madrid, Spain, on Jan. 10 at the Palacio de la Zarzuela. Prince Felipe will be there to give the honors. The day before Paillán will be a featured presenter at the indigenous communications conference, held in the Casa de América.