How is the Indigenous food sovereignty movement changing global food systems?

GLF Live with documentary filmmaker Sanjay Rawal

The story of food systems is similar across the histories of many countries and cultures – of colonization being the turning point at which Indigenous peoples’ harmonized use of endemic food sources was thrown wildly off-balance. Food was suddenly transformed from a centerpiece of tradition, identity and spirituality into a means of development, currency and oppression.

Now, as the risks and pitfalls of global food and agriculture systems are becoming ever more apparent, so too are the health, sustainability and social benefits of native food practices. The documentary film Gather, released in September of this year and a New York Times Critic’s Pick, examines and celebrates this reclamation of food sovereignty in the U.S. specifically, weaving together the stories of a White Mountain Apache chef, a 17-year-old Cheyenne River Sioux food scientist, a Yurok salmon fisherman, and a San Carlos Apache forager and medicine woman.

In this GLF Live, Gather director and Indigenous rights activist Sanjay Rawal discussed how this Indigenous food movement is seeing new life breathed into in ancient practices around the world, and how this can and should feed into the future of humanity’s relationship with food.

Sanjay Rawal spent 15 years working on human rights campaigns globally. He also ran initiatives for acclaimed artists and philanthropists, one of whom encouraged him to start making films. Sanjay’s first documentary, FOOD CHAINS (2014), was produced by Eva Longoria and Eric Schlosser with narration by Forest Whitaker. The film won numerous awards, was released theatrically in 40 cities by Screen Media, and was acquired by Netflix.

Sanjay’s second effort took a sharp turn into non-traditional filmmaking. Applying narrative cinematic technique, Sanjay directed a sweeping expedition film about the Sri Chinmoy 3,100 Mile Race. The film, 3100: RUN AND BECOME, was released theatrically in the US and internationally.

Sanjay’s work has been supported by Ford, Bertha, BritDoc, Fledgling, 11th Hour Project, NoVo, and the Omidyar Network. His work has won an assortment of honors include a James Beard Media Award.

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