Director : Ryan Killackey
Country : Ecuador/USA/Spain
Year : 2016
Duration : 94 min
In the depths of South America, where the Andes, the Amazon and the Equator collide, a wilderness exists that was home to some of the last remaining uncontacted people on Earth. The forest in which they live may claim our planet's highest biodiversity. A place where mammals, birds, plants and amphibians reach peak diversity, together. Because of its biological diversity and cultural significance, the forest was designated a UNESCO Man and Biosphere Reserve and Ecuador's largest national park. It is now known as Yasuni the Man and Biosphere Reserve.
Well before it had a name, it was the territory of the Waorani - fierce warriors bound to the forest. After the discover of Ecuador's largest petroleum reserves in the 1940s, petroleum companies have had their eye on Yasuni with aims to develop it becoming a priority in the Ecuadorian government. After years of failed attempts to develop sites within Yasuni, Shell Petroleum abandoned its concessions due to a series of violent clashes with the Waorani that left several oil workers dead.
Soon after the oil companies abandoned the land, missionaries moved in seeking to convert the Waorani. They met the same resistance the oil companies had fought, and ended up speared to death and cast into the Tiguino River.
By the late 1950s, a missionary group managed to make peaceful contact and many Waorani were evangelized and removed from their ancestral territory. Disease and death spread, and years of assimilation eroded Waorani culture. Those who rejected missionary contact fled deep into the forest and remain in voluntary isolation. Known as the Tagaeri and Taromenani, or the people in voluntary isolation, they fiercely protecting their territory from outsiders by whatever means necessary.
Now, in 2017, Yasuni and the Waorani hang on the edge of collapse.
Yasuni Man, a documentary feature, tells the story of the conflict in Yasuni that has pitted biodiversity and human rights against extractive industries and human consumption.
Director, Producer and Cinematographer Ryan P. Killackey, leads us on an incredible expedition through Yasuni – a 1,500 kilometer journey along 7 rivers, exploring the impact of oil development on the biodiversity of the forest and its people.
Through the documentary, Killackey ushers the viewer into a world unexplored and illustrates a cautionary tale of the far-reaching impact our dependence on fossil fuels can have on wildlife and indigenous people.
This social, political, environmental and human rights drama forces the question: How far would you go to save it all?
A Chicago native and graduate of The University of Montana, Ryan Killackey started his career as a wildlife biologist on various research projects — studying frogs in freshwater lakes, tracking and live trapping wolverines and as a wilderness ranger at a bear observatory in Alaska. But his passion has always been for amphibians. After several years in the U.S., this passion led him to the Ecuadorian Amazon and a transition to photography and film began in 2005.