Interview with FIlmmaker Oscar Akamine (SHIRINGA: AMAZON WHITE GOLD)

Directed by Oscar Akamine, Joseph Neyra
Jorge Escompani is a “Shiringa” master, “Shiringa” is a tree which produces natural latex. This is considered a tradition that preserves great passion and environmental awareness. The extraction of latex from the Shiringa three led to the death of thousands of indigenous people due to slavery during “the fever of latex” in the 19th century.

Get to know the filmmaker:

1. What motivated you to make this film?
My friend Joseph Neyra, who told me about this place in Iberia, Peru. Where was the “maestro” Jorge Escompani, who was one of the few artisan extractors of natural latex. And between the two of us we decided to make this documentary in the midst of a pandemic, traveling by plane to the jungle and then in a small bus with the windows almost closed at more than 28 degrees Celsius for 4-5 hours. The motivation, although it sounds crazy, was to venture, witness, and record something that is so deep that it is almost magical. I have always had this feeling that the best secrets are found in the depths of any person, in this case in the depths of my country.

2. From the idea to the finished product, how long did it take for you to make this film?
Relatively quickly, something that documentary filmmakers in Peru have is that we know that we have to move quickly and fast-paced rhythm. For the pre-production and recording of the material it takes us 2 weeks. After a while, we did the post production in 3 weeks.

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

4. What was the biggest obstacle you faced in completing this film?
The covid and the lack of support. Unfortunately, in Peru, social and environmental projects receive almost no support from the government, or associations or NGOs. Since my country is almost entirely a fishing and mining country, everything shown in this project is a reflection of our own vision, our money, management of our teams and our own edition.

5. What were your initial reactions when watching the audience talking about your film in the feedback video?
The truth is that I cried haha. I am very happy as a filmmaker to see so many points of view and so many details that the audience noticed. The joy and gratitude for being part of the festival is something that can never be forgotten.

Watch the Audience Feedback Video:

6. When did you realize that you wanted to make films?
It all started when, together with my friend and also the documentary maker Joseph Neyra, we were holding workshops for indigenous communities in the jungle of Peru. Each one started to made our own documentaries, I have other documentaries made, but if I could summarize it into one simple statement, it was just the desire to register the beauty, tradition and multiculturalism of our country.

7. What film have you seen the most in your life?
I’m a fan of Takeshi Kitano’s movies, I could say Hana-bi.

8. What other elements of the festival experience can we and other festivals implement to satisfy you and help you further your filmmaking career?
The truth is, I think it’s great that you have implemented this feedback from the audience, as I mentioned before, this is very valuable to me. What we filmmakers need, in addition to money (haha), is exposure, the more our work is exposed, the more demand there will be in the audiovisual market.

9. You submitted to the festival via FilmFreeway. How has your experiences been working on the festival platform site?
All ok! I have no complaints. It is a platform that works very well. Email notifications are timely.

10. What is your favorite meal?
Everything that I prepare myself and the food that my mother prepares. My ancestors are from Okinawa, so at home they prepare mostly Okinawan-Peruvian fusion food. Big portions.

11. What is next for you? A new film?
Right now I am studying a degree in Film Making in Canada, because in Peru there is no relevant school to study Film. After this, if I want to continue making Peruvian documentaries. I am proud of my country, Peru, a country that has a lot to show. And from my work, I try to contribute to making that legacy bigger.


By matthewtoffolo

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

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