Maira & the Jaguar People filmed in Surama, seeks funding

Conservation International, Iwokrama, and the people of Surama hope to promote the restoration and preservation of the Amerindian language and cultural heritage, through a groundbreaking film titled, Maira and her brother Mairun. The producers are crowdsourcing the final stages of project financing through IndieGogo.

The film is based on a young girl, Maira and her brother Mairun . Maira loves birdsong and Mairun dreams of being a hunter. As a result of a terrifying encounter with a jaguar, they discover for themselves the practical wisdom behind the traditions and beliefs of their community and way of life. They learn to listen to what the Shaman calls ‘the advice of the birds’ and that the jaguar holds a special place in the interconnected web of life and death in the rainforest; that there is a kind of mutual respect between humans and jaguars, now a protected species in South America.

In this film the rainforest will be more than just a beautiful backdrop. The music of its trees, waterfalls, rivers and birdsong will play a very important part in the story. So will the musical language of the Makushi (with subtitles) which will also be featured. The project will therefore also help promote the restoration and preservation of their language and cultural heritage, already in grave danger of being lost through the pull of the cities on their young people. Landscape is more than land. It is our most valuable resource for living. The rainforests are the lungs of the globe

The Makushi people of Surama will benefit directly from the making of this film, both in terms of their close involvement in the technical and casting areas of the production, but also because they will be building a replica of a Makushi village from the 1950’s as part of the set for the film, and the structures built will not be torn down after filming, but will remain in the care of the Makushi community.

A trail and bivouac for overnighting will be built at Kayanperu, to be developed as a Heritage Site. These structures could then be used as living or guest spaces for the community and their visitors, or serve as a museum site, for example. All these facilities will remain after the filming crew leaves, for the use of the Makushi community.


Teaser of film project in progress, “Maira and the Jaguar People”, directed by actor and dramaturge Michael Gilkes. These scenes were filmed in the Makushi community of Surama in the tropical rainforests of Guyana, South America. All the people seen are members of this community. Filmed and edited by Omar Estrada. Crowd-funding campaign starts March 31 on – help us make this film by contributing to the campaign!