Documentary + Animation + Collaboration + Education
Café es vida / Coffee is Life
In 2018, at the 1st International Assembly for Community Development Across Borders in Cuajimoloyas, Oaxaca, Mexico, we met Josefina Vasquez Morales from the Instituto Oaxaqueño del Café. Nestled in the mountains and between the rains, a discussion began about collaborating on an animated documentary from the point-of-view of children who could share the story of coffee from seed to cup. The project grew into CAFE ES VIDA / COFFEE IS LIFE (working title) , a feature documentary and short animated nonfiction about women, children and cooperative farmers in Oaxaca, Mexico, who grow specialty coffee on their traditional lands.
Josefina worked with children from four Zapotec and Mixtec villages, who drew over 130 drawings of the coffee process. These drawings formed part of the animation created by animator August Davis and director Suree Towfighnia.
In August of 2019, the film team traveled to three Oaxacan villages to share our work in progress animation with the children and their families. We met with the young artists and their families, learned about the coffee process, organized a series of animation workshops with the children, documented some of the coffee production process, screened a rough cut of the animation with the communities, and recorded voices of ten children for the final narration. The final animation will form part of an educational and outreach campaign for Mexican youth and their families to celebrate and value the role that coffee plays in their lives – from seed to cup.
The animation and feature project are currently in pre-production and production with anticipated release dates of 2020 (animation) and 2023 (feature documentary).
In addition to the documentary and animation, the filmmakers are committed to providing spaces for dialogue around important themes and issues connected to the story being told.
In November, 2019, we organized and hosted the NURTURING ROOTS symposium and teach-in , which featured testimonies from indigenous people who are protecting their culture and land by creating sustainable work models that honor their traditions and ways of life. People listened to testimonies from Jeremiah George (Squaxin Island), Josefina Vasquez Morales (Mixtec), Alex White Plume (Lakota), and Marco Antonio Flores-Quin (P'urépecha), as well as poets Che Christ (Reuben Cruz, Pii Paash) and Catalina Ocampo. This event took place on the unceded lands of the Squaxin Island Peoples on the Evergreen State College campus and was partially sponsored by the college and funding from a Mellon grant. The event was recorded and can be seen here.
Director Suree Towfighnia + Producer Josefina Vasquez Morales + Director of Animation August Davis + Associate Producer Keely Liles + Researcher & Still Photographer Valentine Espinoza + Research Consultant Maria Isabel Morales