Animated Coca: Understanding the Little Leaf
Everything that is ours is sacred;
Coca corroborates that well:
In the leaves she tells all the truth.
Don't trample on my coca anymore.
Yesterday they trampled on my house,
They stole all the valuables,
And now they want to finish off my coca.
The metamorphosis of the little leaf at Graphoui.
From South to North, children speak about their daily lives through the story of the same little leaf: the Coca. They explain in an animated film that, "Coca is good, cocaine is bad." These young people who tell about "la hojita," the little leaf between the moon and the sun, are the children of Bolivian peasants and miners. For lack of resources, they find themselves displaced to crude zones like El Alto, a vast impoverished city on the outskirts of La Paz, the capital of Bolivia, or Cochabamba, or over by the Yungas in the community of Machacamarca.
Thousands of miles away the little leaf still plays a role: in Paris (The Golden Drop), and in Brussels (The Alley), between wastelands, parking lots, colored pencils, sound recording, photographs and shooting 16mm film, other children beckon to our little Bolivian friends with animated films.
This animated film project involved children, adolescents and adults who are involved in European (North) drug consumption or the production of "drug plants" in South America (South). The production and shooting of the film was supported by local organizations and partners and involved six different studios in several countries. The approach to this project was very interactive so that all of the partners, could get a sense of the whole. The resulting collective exchange of views and ideas lead to a more creative attitude toward questioning the subject matter. The beauty of this interaction lies in the imagination and the experience of children who perhaps know little more about animation than Snow White.
The first step was collecting the words, images and opinions of people who were confronted, in both the North and South, with the problem of drugs. Converting this into an audiovisual language involved the children, young people and adults creating animated images, using a method that has been tried out over the past dozen years by Graphoui. This method has the advantage of being able to adapt to cultural differences and whatever local resources might be encountered. [Editor's Note: The technique used to animate this film was traditional cels, shot in 16mm and processed separately in each of the participating countries.]
Simultaneously and in collaboration with everyone concerned, the project proposed to make a documentary video about the procedures of the different studios and the social, cultural and economic environments in which the animated films that were being made would be shown. The visual and sound productions from each of the different studios were regularly exchanged so that everyone knew what was being done. This interaction created a final composite film that could be screened as a collaborative statement between the North and the South about the problems of "interdependence."
The Pedagogical Objectives
The project is based on the cooperation that was begun during the European Campaign for Drug Information which involved European and South American non-governmental organizations interested in "drug development," and the preventative organizations active against drug addiction. The proposal to work together on the same project is based on the shared interest of the various organizations to address the problems of the South's under-developed health education system, particularly in the region of drug addiction prevention.
In terms of education for development, the content of the project is a realistic approach to the problems in Bolivia due to the production of Coca which plays a dominant role socially, politically and culturally. This objective to raise awareness about the difficulties encountered by a southern country, is further enhanced by the joint perspective and dynamics of the European/South-American exchange. The proposition to complete an open and shared collective statement between Bolivia's drug producers and Europe's drug addicted aims at more concretely revealing the relationship of reciprocal dependencies.
This approach takes into account global geopolitics, thereby enlarging the scope of public health. The subject of drug abuse continues to become more and more preoccupying, and remains very difficult to treat in preventative terms; especially among young people where the growing amount of drug addiction is equal in both Europe and developing nations.
Everything that is ours is sacred;