New doc features Canadian photographer’s aid to Peruvians

(Canscene) — Some months ago, I published a letter from friend and collegue Lalita Krishna,  award winning documentarian. It was written from Peru where she was filming Shift Focus a documentary which aired in Spanish on OMNI 1 last August 9 and is set for English-language screening some time this fall.

Shift Focus is the story of Chilean-born Torontonian Rodrigo Moreno who is first seen making a living as a wedding photographer. Rodrigo answers an inner call to help city kids at risk by involving them in a photography project that leaves them with the urge to face a more creative future with their proud new possessions — the cameras Rodrigo has given them to keep.

Rodrigo is invited to Peru to teach kids photography at URUKU, a centre founded by young environmental activist Carlos Daniel. URUKU, close to the Amazon embracing an animal sanctuary and a school for youngsters is at the heart of the so-called reforesation development which threatens the entire ecological system.

Lalita’s documentary conveys the joys of indigenous children discovering photography as well as the menace to the lives of people like Carlos Daniel who has received several death threats. The Peruvian sequences which make up most of he film are shot by Zoe Durse with a fine regard for the natural beauty of the Amazon region, making all the more poignant the plight of the local people and the menacing times in which they live.

The children learn how to use  cameras to good effect and their sense of stunned delight when Rodrigo tells them they’re the owners of the cameras they’ve been working with is a joy to behold.

Lalita Krishna has once again captured the essential goodness in projects like Rodrigo’s and the young people who become involved in them.   I recall her  Ryan’s Well, Jambo Kenya!,  Shooting for Change, Chaos, Chords and Karma and of course, Move Your World which, shown at the 2006 Sprockets Children’s film festival won the audience choice award over two hyped Hollywood productions.

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