#PerpetuoOriginals

We dare to elevate marginalized voices from the most inhospitable places on earth. War zone in Africa. Nicaraguan rainforest. A NICU during Covid. Nonfiction for people who give a damn. 

 

Our active slate of programming includes DANI’S TWINS, the story of a quadriplegic woman and her journey to motherhood; PATROL, the battle to preserve Nicaragua’s rainforest from illegal cattle ranching; and EAT BITTER, the first English-language documentary out of the Central African Republic, capturing the tensions between Chinese migrants and local workers during a civil war.

In 2021, our films secured grants and partnered with the biggest global names in nonfiction storytelling: Hot DocsIDFA, the Ford Foundation, the Sundance InstituteMountainfilm, the European Union, Re:wild, Netflix Ambulante, and others.

Filming DANI'S TWINS in rural Virginia

DANI'S TWINS

Dani's Twins captures the pregnancy and early parenting journey of Dani Izzie, one of the few quadriplegics ever to give birth to twins. Complications prove dangerous, but when the pandemic strikes, it raises the stakes.


The Crisis

Disability affects more than 1 billion people worldwide. Yet societal stigma and marginalization prevail. Propelled by ableism and fear, barriers to social acceptance result in ongoing discrimination, from the failure to facilitate physical access to societal projections of lesser value. People with disabilities are often treated like they’re invisible.

 

The Problem

Disability narratives tend to focus on medical issues and on “fixing” people, contributing further to the marginalization of people with disabilities. These social barriers and attitudes often shape the identity and inhibit the ability of people with disabilities to live and interact in the same way as able-bodied people.

The Opportunity

Dani’s Twins documentary provides a rare, intimate look into the topics of disability, pregnancy and adaptive parenthood, viewed through the lens of one woman’s personal journey. Within the context of this high-risk but joyful pregnancy and new parenthood adventure, the film’s thematic focus is on normalizing disability.

For more, see the dedicated Dani's Twins website and connect with us @danistwinsfilm on your favorite socials.

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PATROL

Part investigative journalism, part eco-justice,
PATROL is an urgent warning, bound to inspire action.

An emerging crisis in one of the last remaining rainforests in Central America ignites a heroic mission in PATROL. When illegal cattle ranchers decimate large swaths of rainforest, indigenous rangers join forces with an American conservationist and undercover journalists to expose the dark world of conflict beef.

The Crisis

Devastation threatens indigenous communities and planet's health. With global focus on the Amazon, destruction of smaller rainforests is being ignored. In Nicaragua, 14% of rainforests was destroyed in the past five years. At current deforestation rates, Nicaragua will have lost 83% of its rainforest by 2030. Indigenous cultures, already on the brink of extinction, will be gone forever.

The Problem

Illegal cattle ranchers are invading the rainforest. ​Plenty of laws prohibit cattle ranching in the rainforest, but they aren’t enforced. Exported beef goes to the USA. This PBS News Hour piece, "In Nicaragua, Supplying Beef to the US Comes at a High Human Cost," does a great job exposing the issue.

Deadly Consequences

Expose the truth, risk your life​: 58% of all murders of environmental and land rights defenders around the world between 2010 and 2015 took place in Latin America (resource). Indigenous people are regularly displaced and killed. Nicaragua has some of the world’s harshest laws criminalizing journalism and free speech (Reuters), effectively enabling the covert destruction of the rainforest.

The Result

Bottom line: Independent American cattle ranchers get undercut on price, American consumers don’t get the truth about supply chains. The vicious cycle continues, and more Nicaraguan ranchers invade the rainforest.

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EAT BITTER

Part During a civil war, an immigrant Chinese construction

manager & local African laborer work on opposite ends

of the spectrum to construct a sparkling new bank. 

“Eat Bitter 吃苦” is a character-driven documentary about communities on opposite sides of fast-changing, war-torn Central African Republic. On one side, local Africans — their lives long interrupted by war and poverty — crave stability and work. On the other, an influx of new Chinese immigrants are investing and building, much like they are doing across the African continent. 

The Setting

The landlocked Central African Republic is one of the poorest countries in the world. It suffered under a brutal dictator for years, then in 2012 suffered a coup d’état. A peacekeeping mission restored a semblance of order in the capital, Bangui, but the rest of the country is still under rebel control. In this tenuous peace, our story begins.

 

The Dynamic

Today’s defining transformation in African geopolitics is diminishing Western influence and China’s rise, including in the Central African Republic. Most attention focuses on big projects (highways, ports, bridges) or extractive industries (oil pipelines, mining operations). But another phenomenon is at play: a jobs pipeline. More than a million Chinese have left home to work in Africa. Many of these are poor, rural Chinese attracted by bigger salaries, no matter the sacrifice.

 

Thomas

Every morning at sunrise, THOMAS BOA plunges into the murky Oubangui River to collect sand. His canoe is rough-hewn by hand. When he stops rowing, he prays, and then dives. Concentric ripples radiate outward, at first reflecting the dim light, then fading. Finally, Thomas pierces the surface, violently gasping for breath. He hoists a heavy basket over the canoe’s edge. His colleague grabs it, dumps sand in the canoe, and throws the empty basket back in the water. Two hours later, their load full, the pair return to “Bangui FM,” the informal sand market by the local radio station. Younger men carry different baskets on their heads, transferring Thomas’ sand to a pile next to the street. This is the chain of sand. 

 

Luan

JIANMIN LUAN, a 43 year-old Chinese man, doesn’t care about any of that. As construction manager for the impressive Banque Commercial Centrafrique, Luan is a regular customer at the sand market. While workers shovel sand into his truck, Luan walks down to the river to pass the time. Amid cat calls of “Nǐ hǎo” (hello) from the other sand divers, Luan exchanges pleasantries with the sand boss and greets THOMAS. Luan hails from a remote corner of rural Shandong Province known for its coal mines. When he got the chance to work in war-torn Africa at triple his salary back home, Luan jumped.