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“The Cherán Way" captures the compelling story of Cherán, a P'urhépecha indigenous town in Mexico, rising against illegal logging to achieve self-determination and environmental revival. Amidst the global climate crisis, the film highlights the town's path to autonomy as a model for sustainable living. It weaves together the experiences of three central figures – Susy, a young street artist inspired by the town's history; Paco, an environmental engineer contributing to its restoration; and Geno, a leader of the rebellion – illustrating an intergenerational journey of hope, resilience, and ecological guardianship. The documentary showcases Cherán's enduring legacy, the challenges it faces, and its role as a beacon for community-driven environmental action.



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Cherán, a P'urhépecha indigenous town in Michoacán, Mexico, has emerged as a unique model of environmental revolt and community resilience. In 2011, faced with rampant deforestation driven by the lucrative avocado industry, the townspeople, led by women, staged a successful rebellion against illegal logging and avocado cultivation. They ousted corrupt officials and local cartels, and declared independence from the Mexican state. In this eco-revolution, Cherán restructured its governance by banning political parties, forming its own council, and implementing strict environmental policies. This included a robust reforestation campaign to rejuvenate native pine forests and advanced water management programs. Cherán's transformation from a victim of ecological exploitation to an autonomous zone of militant environmentalism, standing as a "forest island" amidst avocado plantations, offers vital insights into grassroots environmental activism and the potential of local communities to drive sustainable change. This remarkable story of Cherán underscores the power of local agency and community-led resource governance in combatting environmental degradation and advocating for sustainable development.


Since 2011, Cherán has exemplified effective grassroots environmentalism and indigenous resilience. The community reinstated traditional governance structures. They established the Council for Communal Goods to manage and protect their natural resources, particularly forests, and implemented strict policies against commercial avocado cultivation to preserve water resources. Key initiatives include community-led patrols for forest protection, sustainable community enterprises, and extensive reforestation efforts, successfully revitalizing nearly 3,000 hectares of land. Cherán's approach, centered on local, collective action and sustainable resource management, stands as a powerful example of how communities can effectively combat environmental challenges and assert their autonomy in the face of external pressures.



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Sélim Benzeghia is a French- Algerian documentary filmmaker and investigative journalist with a multidisciplinary background in law, history and business. He is dedicated to purposeful, diverse and impactful storytelling, focusing on social justice issues, including forced migration, climate justice and international human rights. His credits have included work for Nova Productions, ARTE, UNHCR, and UNICEF. He is finishing his first feature film, focusing on migrant detentions in France. Sélim is now working between France and Mexico but maintains a global approach and a regional connection to Middle Eastern and LATAM issues.

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Ivonne Serna is a Mexican-born independent filmmaker, specializing in environmental storytelling and exploring the intersections of political, economic, and social factors with ecological issues. Dedicated to diverse storytelling, Ivonne is attentive to amplifying the voices of women in media and communities of color. With roots in Michoacán, Mexico, and currently based in the United States, Ivonne maintains a global perspective on her work while staying connected to Latin American issues.

With three years of research experience at the National Geographic Society, Middlebury College, and Robin des Bois, Ivonne has honed her mission to popularize specialized knowledge and render intricate stories accessible to the public. She has strong field experience in Latin America and values co-participatory processes to ensure that the communities she works with are heard.

Ivonne's talent has been recognized through her selection for the prestigious non-fiction program Documentary Campus 2023, where she is developing her first feature-length documentary. Her latest short film "Sabor y Amor" premiered at the VTIFF Made Here film festival.

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