Interview with Filmmaker Boris Thompson-Roylance (A Message From The Kogi Tribe of the Don Diego River Basin)

A Message From The Kogi Tribe of the Don Diego River Basin, 7min., Columbia, Documentary
Directed by Boris Thompson-Roylance
Take a glimpse into The Kogi, an ancient Colombian civilisation that might just hold the answer to the climate crisis happening across the world right now.

Get to know the filmmaker:

1. What motivated you to make this film?

I was already in Colombia working on another project and The Kogi community had caught wind of our visit and invited us to come and tell their story and document their message in the Sierra. A lot of my work is exploring our interconnectivity to the natural world and telling the stories of underrepresented voices. I had spent the earlier part of the year in Indonesia, making a documentary alongside filmmaker Alice Colfox, about The Bajo, a nomadic society of fishermen in Sulawesi who have a deep affiliation and co-existence with water. The Kogi are an Aztec community, with ancient wisdom, who are often very protective and don’t often open their doors to Westerners, so the access window was unmissable.

2. From the idea to the finished product, how long did it take for you to make this film?

We met the Kogi community in 2018 and filmed with them for two days. The longest and most crucial element of the film was developing the impact partners and campaign. In Documentary filmmaking I believe that it is vital to have legacy and supporting campaign projects. In early 2021, we aligned with Jaguar Siembra, a charity based in the mountains of the Sierra Nevada, who work closely with the Indigenous Communities of the mountains on Community Regenerative Agroecology projects.

Together, we developed an impact campaign to buy back the land which was stolen from the communities by property developers and the corrupt government. This campaign took a year to develop and we launched alongside the film on WaterBear, an environmental streaming platform, in August 2022.

You can learn more about the campaign and donate funds towards buying back their land via the website below:

3. How would you describe your film in two words!?


4. What was the biggest obstacle you faced in completing this film?

Researching, sourcing and cultivating the correct impact partner for the film’s campaigns. We reached a few dead ends and crossroads with the project, actually putting it on ice for over six months, because it was proving impossible to reconnect with the communities back in London. When we connected with Jaguar Siembra, the project accelerated like rocket fuel. Sourcing strong partners who align with your vision is essential!

5. What were your initial reactions when watching the audience talking about your film in the feedback video?

I found it incredibly touching and heartfelt. Hearing the audience talk about the themes of the film with such clarity and enthusiasm was very encouraging that the film’s purpose has been achieved.

Watch the Audience Feedback Video:

6. When did you realize that you wanted to make films?

I was 16 and I had broken a load of bones from doing Parkour/Freerunning and decided to retire and go behind the lens rather than in front. Best choice I ever made!

7. What film have you seen the most in your life?

I’ve watched Ron Frike’s ‘Samsara’ (2011) many times. Poetic, environmental filmmaking at its most grandiose and transcendent. A must watch for any nature lovers!

8. What other elements of the festival experience can we and other festivals implement to satisfy you and help you further your filmmaking career?

A visual awards ceremony would be fantastic. I attended a couple over lockdown and it really makes the filmmakers feel engaged even if they can’t travel to the actual festival.

9. You submitted to the festival via FilmFreeway. How has your experiences been working on the festival platform site?

Beautiful presented and simple to navigate. However there are many fake, pretend cowboy film festivals, setup for a quick cash fix, taking advantage of easily fooled, enthusiastic filmmakers. This is appalling and FilmFreeway should pay more attention to filtering them out.

10. What is your favorite meal?

Every Andrei Tarkovsky film lathered in butter and fresh herbs.

11. What is next for you? A new film?

I am writing and developing my debut feature. It is a psychological mystery horror set in a Refugee detention centre within a crumbling Hotel in Northern England.


By matthewtoffolo

Filmmaker and sports fan. CEO of the WILDsound Film and Writing Festival

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