Some Other Films about the Sierra Nevada

David Attenborough, Peter Elsass, Yesid Campos, Robert Gardner and Brian Moser have all made films about the Arhuaco. In his book The Coming of the Sun - A Prologue to Ika Sacred Narrative, Donald Tayler says that ‘(p)erhaps the most visually informative among these is Robert Gardner’s Ika Hands, which was filmed in the late eighties with a commentary by Reichel-Dolmatoff.’ He adds that the ‘most remarkable film to date of the indigenous inhabitants of the Sierra Nevada de Santa Marta is From the Heart of the World. This was made by Alan Ereira in 1989 about the Kogi Indians.’ (Tayler 1997: xiv). Tayler also points out that other films about the Kogi have been made. ‘Ereira seems to imply that this is the first time the Kogi have been filmed. Certainly nothing on the scale of his work has been undertaken. However, 16 mm film had been shot by Reichel-Dolmatoff in the 1940’s, by Niels Halbertsma in the late 1950’s, and by Francisco Norden in the mid-1960’s.’

In 1994, Austrian TV showed a documentary regarding a group of young German hang-gliders who wanted to fly from the top of the Peaks to the coast. Attempts to walk up the mountain were blocked by the Kogi. Whilst expressing some understanding of why the Kogi were objecting, they nevertheless returned to the coast and hired a helicopter to fly to the Peaks, which are the Land of the Dead for the Kogi. All attempts to hang-glide failed, all machines were damaged in the attempts, and one man died (not of a flying accident). The overall impression was of macho types unsympathetic to the feelings of the people whose land they were trespassing on for their own selfish purposes. There were some interesting shots of the Kogi; lowland Kogi wearing baseball hats, and upland Kogi physically, in a very determined way, blocking the way ahead.

In 1997, a 45 minute documentary was shown on German TV in the ‘Länder, Menschen, Abenteuer’ series, called ‘Geheimnisvolles Land der Kogi-Indianer’ written and directed by Wolfram R. Bauer and with a voiceover by Rolf Schult. This film was the subject of protest from the Kogi, who suggested that they had been tricked into allowing it, and featured the both Arregoces and Mama Valencia. It followed, in many ways, Alan’s film with shots of the Lost City, the preparation of lime from shells, collecting shells on the seashore, the horse-powered sugar-press, making donations to the ocean etc.. The wooden Christian cross which featured in Alan’s film is seen being dismantled. There is no footage of Colombian society, i.e. of Santa Marta. Although the Mamas now disown it, the crew were given access to Bongar, Pueblo Viejo and San Miguel. Interesting footage is of making rope and the use of canoes, and there is one beautiful closing shot of pelicans skimming the waves.