Uprooted explores the effect of Colombia’s civil war on the people of the Colombian Pacific region, an area that, for centuries, remained exclusively a mining frontier on the periphery of the nation’s development. The majority of the population—freed and runaway slaves and indigenous peoples—lived in relatively dispersed communities up and down the river basin, where their livelihoods depended on agriculture, gold panning, fishing and the collection of shellfish in the river deltas. However, the Colombian Pacific has become a new frontier for development and as Colombia’s civil war has escalated, violence and mass displacement have become all too common as struggles for land and resources intensify. At the center of Uprooted are Noris, a mother and community leader, and her family, displaced since 1996 and living in a refugee shelter on the outskirts of Quibdó, a growing city on the Pacific Coast. This documentary is an intimate portrayal of the tragedy of uprooting; a beautifully detailed tale about struggle and resilience; a bittersweet story of loss, love, family, and dreams.
Juan Mejia Botero
Juan Mejia Botero was born in Bogota, Colombia. In 2000 he received a bachelor’s degree in Anthropology & Sociology from Swarthmore College. As part of his thesis work he co-directed and co-edited the documentary film Merging Voices: The Youth of EI Salvador Speak. During the following year, as a Thomas J. Watson Fellowship recipient he traveled, lived, and worked as a grassroots video facilitator in several countries in Latin America (Colombia, Ecuador, Brazil, Peru, and Chile). He also dedicated time to working with the Asociación de Afrocolombianos Desplazados (AFRODES) in Colombia. He is currently in Colombia working on a feature documentary titled The Battle for Land, that deals more deeply with the true and often-hidden causes and consequences of the forced displacement of Afrocolombians. The film, due to be completed in late 2010, has just won a completion grant from the ministry of culture in Colombia through the Fondo de Cine.