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Caught between the government and the rebels, a Mexican shaman fights to bring his message to the world stage. Read more

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This project was successfully funded on September 14, 2010.

Caught between the government and the rebels, a Mexican shaman fights to bring his message to the world stage.

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The Brothers
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The Brothers

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About this project

See the trailer here:

Keepers of the Earth uncovers the battle between environmentalists and indigenous tribes for Mexico's greatest natural wonder, the Lacandon Jungle. At the upcoming 2010 UN Climate Talks, will the rainforest be saved or will people fighting for survival win back their land.
Friends, we’re making a feature documentary film!
Keepers of the Earth was born out of our lifelong love of myth and photography. After completing his BA in anthropology at Johns Hopkins, Aaron got a Fulbright Fellowship to Mexico. In January 2009 he set out for Chiapas in search of shaman. After finishing a BFA in Film Production at NYU’s Tisch School of the Arts, David journeyed to Chiapas with a camera, sound and lighting equipment in September. Together we have raised and invested over $20,000 and 2 years of full-time work. Now, six rising talents have joined our crew and we need $25,000 to get the team to Mexico for four months to finish shooting.

18 months of research and 60 hours of filming gave birth to 2 burning questions driving our work:
How do we choose between economic prosperity and saving our environment?
What place is there for a traditional way of life in the 21st century?
Keepers of the Earth is an inside look at the battle over transforming the earth’s dwindling biodiversity into sustainable development. As the threat of environmental catastrophe mounts, biodiversity gains more and more traction as a hot commodity. Mexico is a mega-diverse country and keenly aware of the potential to turn green plants into green dollars.

Juan Mendez—humble peasant, refugee and Mayan healer—is caught between two warring ideologies. Though forced to work with both sides, he remains single-minded in his quest to revive his people’s reverence for the earth. Will Juan find his voice at the UN talks and return to lead his people? or will he be consumed in the conflict?

After a rebellious youth, Rocio is striving to break with cronyism and turn decades of public resentment into trust. A coalition of farmer-activists aren´t buying it and aim to foil the effort. Rocio believes eco-tourism will bring prosperity to rural poor and reconnect urban society with nature. But farmer-activists suspect ulterior motives and intend to use December’s UN Climate talks to discredit Mexican leadership on the global stage.

Keepers of the Earth documents the difficulties at the heart of sustainable development and the unwavering pride of Mexico’s indigenous people in their daily struggle for land, ancient traditions and the right to join the globalized world at their own pace.

Why We Need to be in Mexico RIGHT NOW:
Now is the ONLY time we can tell this story!
-The 2010 UN Climate Talks are in Cancun this December:
Chiapas is facing increasing militarization
Authorities are ramping up forced relocation of indigenous settlers
-Rapid loss of biodiversity contributes to climate change and ravages our untold genetic heritage.

Here’s What We Need Your Money For:
-A second camera, tripod, sound kit, and mobile lighting kit to achieve our artistic vision
-A web media coordinator and strategist who will develop our website and bring the details of our adventure to you through articles, videos, and images.
-Renting a house for our 8-person crew
-Buying a used off-road 4x4 for transport to remote shoots
-Food and incidental expenses for 8-person crew

In Chiapas Keepers is a tool in the movement for pragmatic dialogue aimed at breaking down 20 years of resentment between government and communities.
While focusing national attention on rural development, we will showcase the benefits of Cooperative Natural Resource Management.
Keepers is a tool to urge the international community to convene environmentalists and social activists around an environmental agenda that uplifts the world's poorest.

Working on this film has been a great challenge and a great joy. We look forward to sharing our challenges and joys with you as we move forward.

Stay up-to-date with our project by following us.

Thank you so much for your support and the opportunity to tell this great story.

In gratitude,
David and Aaron Soto-Karlin

Additional Background Information:
The May 2008 G8 Economics of Ecosystems and Biodiversity Report ushered in a new era in global development. The report values global biodiversity at up to $4 trillion/year.
Biodiversity is a new kind of commodity with the potential to drive equitable growth and climate policy innovation. Indigenous peoples face an unprecedented opportunity for greater equity: their lands harbor the majority of the world's biodiversity. Will the world’s indigenous communities harness newfound wealth or face another brand of exploitation?

In the battle against biodiversity loss and climate change, Mexican political leaders hope that the Cancun talks will cement Mexico’s reputation as a global innovator in sustainable development. But Mexico’s greatest biodiversity treasure is also it’s poorest state, Chiapas. Twenty years of warring ideologies and tribal feuds have bread widespread deception and left countless families in ruin. Chiapas’ Lacandon Rainforest is an environmental gem and the point of conflict between national interests and indigenous settlers who refuse to move.

Keepers of the Earth is an inside look at the tension between global priorities and local rights in the lead up to Cancun. Will the international spotlight offer an opportunity for compromise between divided segments of Mexican society?


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    Our deepest grattitude sent to you via Twitter (all prizes through $50 donations are also included on all donations above $50)

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    GRATUITY PACKAGE: A thank you on Twitter and Kickstarter Updates.

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    THE NEWS PACKAGE: Exclusive backer only updates on production progress, and local and international issues surrounding the climate change debate. (and everything above)

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    THE INSIDER'S PACKAGE: A special thank you with your name on our website and access to an on-line pre-release screening upon the film's completion. (and everything above)

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    THE HOLLYWOOD PACKAGE: A personally signed, pre-release DVD from the director (and/or Digital Download and everything above).

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    THE STIMULUS PACKAGE: One 1/2lb bag of fair-trade, organic coffee AND one of Mayan Hot Chocolate grown and produced by our partner cooperative Toyol Witz in Chiapas. (and everything above)

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    THE CRAFTSMAN'S PACKAGE: An 8x10 Black and White fiber print from the production, signed and dedicated by the directors, Personally hand-printed and signed by the photographer.

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    TEXTILE REVOLUTION PACKAGE: A hand-woven artisanal poncho from women's weaving cooperatives in Zinacantan, Chiapas. The cooperatives provide indigenous women with economic independence and a living wage. See some of the textiles here:

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    THE SPIRITUALITY PACKAGE: A one hour didgeridoo sound therapy session and meditation CD by New York based musicians, AJ Block and Tyler Sussman. (Restricted to New York City, and donor must find own transportation)

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    THE FLOWER POWER PACKAGE: Masdevallias are cloud forest orchids from the Andes. This package includes a dozen of the finest varieties, including two that grow at Machu Pichu, from a Certified Organic grower of rare and unusual orchids. Package includes FedEx express shipping in the continental United States. For more information on these gems, go to

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    THE PORTRAIT PACKAGE: A 2 hour portrait session with a Fine Arts Photographer and Keepers' Producer of Marketing. Includes a vision consultation, photo imaging, a digital image collection and up to 50 4x6 proof prints. (Restricted to Central North Carolina)

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    THE ARISTOCRAT PACKAGE: A full day cooking lesson in Mexican cuisine with a professional Mexican caterer, Keepers Associate producer and descendent of Spanish crusader El Cid. (Restricted to Mexico City or the Baltimore/DC area)

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    THE SUSTAINABLE PACKAGE: A one-day introduction to biodynamic farming practices and organic farm tour with Keepers Associate Producer and Foggy Moon Farm Director Sam Karlin in Mendocino, CA. The farm overlooks the Pacific Ocean and the day will include a farm fresh dinner for up to 8 people. (Transportation to Farm not included) Image of farm:

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    THE JUNGLE MYSTIQUE PACKAGE: South of Chiapas along the Mesoamerican biodiversity corridor in Costa Rica, a 5 night stay at a 2 BR bungalow in the jungle, but only 500M from the ocean. (

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    INDIE DELUXE PACKAGE: Round-Trip flight and tickets for two to the Keepers of the Earth North American premiere, and dinner with the directors. (Lodging not included)

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    THE PAINTER'S PACKAGE: A Zen Painting by prominent Mexican artist Arturo Medellin. Image and more info:

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    BACK TO THE EARTH EXECUTIVE PRODUCER'S PACKAGE: A 5-night summer stay at a 3BR Condo in Beaver Creek, Colorado. Surrounded by beautiful hiking, one evening will be joined by the directors for a private advanced screening of the film and discussion. It will include the latest update on climate change policy by a leading American Environmental policy analyst. You will also be given an Executive Producer credit at the end of the film. (transportation to colorado not provided)

Funding period

- (35 days)