Wageningen University & Research

Diary of Travelling Rivers

Wageningen University & Research (WUR) is a strong advocate for highlighting the crucial role of water in society. They emphasize that without water, life as we know it couldn’t exist, underscoring its fundamental importance to human survival and community well-being.
Client
Wageningen University & Research
Deliverables
30 minute documentary
Services
Countries worked in
Colombia, Ecuador

From riverbanks to global recognition - the power of personal storytelling

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Travelling Rivers is a collective counter-mapping initiative that aims to illuminate and mobilise the knowledge, imaginations, and conflicts surrounding rivers. These aspects are often hidden but are perceived and experienced daily by riverine communities. Makmende was delighted to receive the brief from the WUR team (Wageningen University & Research) to create a film showcasing the efforts of activists, artists, and researchers on the ground. The goal is to illustrate how rivers travel and, in doing so, foster transnational solidarity. The initial task was to create a documentary about the communities living near five rivers in Colombia and Ecuador. This documentary aims to inspire the audience to appreciate the importance of sharing local knowledge—including information, strategies, and methods—and to communicate effectively. Through this sharing and communication, communities can benefit and alleviate the daily struggles they face.

Makmende approach

At Makmende, we believe in creating stories that are real and relevant. The urgency of the Wageningen brief was immediately clear: the water crisis is a global issue, and the environmental challenges in Colombia are particularly pressing. Colombia is considered the deadliest country for environmental activists; in 2022 alone, 60 individuals lost their lives seeking solutions to improve our planet. But to make the story powerful, we needed to make it human. We proposed a personal storytelling approach: stories are more memorable than plain facts or statistics, making it easier for the audience to retain the key messages and lessons conveyed. This is how “Diary of Travelling River” was born: the documentary follows the journey of Maria, a fisherwoman, activist, and artist. Through her eyes, and her encounters with fishermen, farmers, peasants, and community leaders, the film highlights the importance of community and the profound impact of feeling less isolated in the fight against the global water crisis. This story transcends Colombia. Water shouldn't be a country-specific topic. It shouldn't just be a political issue; it should be about humanity. It should be about people.

Outcome

The documentary premiered in the Netherlands at Wageningen University, receiving a positive response from the public. It was also screened in Colombia, where the communities saw firsthand the importance of their collaboration. The film gained international recognition at two prestigious festivals: it received an "Honorable Mention" at The Impact DOCS Awards and was a finalist at the Washington DC International Cinema Festival. Additionally, the documentary's reach has expanded globally. Quintus Studios, an international distributor, acquired the rights to publish it in North and South America, Indonesia, Malaysia, India, the Philippines, South Africa, Nigeria, Kenya, Benelux, the UK, Australia, and New Zealand. The documentary is also currently under consideration for other festivals.

Working towards these SDG’s

Climate action SDG
Clean water and sanitation SDG

Meet some of the local storytellers working on this case

Alessia

Senior Creative
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