MICHAEL "POM" PRESTON’ STATEMENT: Sawalmem, "sacred water," is how the Winnemem Wintu tribe has always been in relationship with water. Coming from Northern California, where water is abundant, the tribe decided it was time to share this meaning of Sawalmem to help change the concept of water as "resource" to water as sacred life giver. As a member of the tribe, I decided to do my part in telling the world what my tribe is saying about water and became part of making this documentary happen.
NATASHA DEGANELLO GIRAUDIE’S STATEMENT: The path for a non-native filmmaker wanting to share indigenous stories is a delicate one. It requires extra layers of relationship building, trust, access, patience, humility, alignment and collaboration. But this story is deeply personal for me and is worth all that, and more.
My friendship with Michael, the co-director of this film, and his tribe has evolved naturally and it has been their openness, their trust and their invitation to bring the camera into their most intimate circles which ultimately has enabled us to move forward on this project.
As a child growing up in Caracas, my parents often took me into the wilderness of Venezuela to meet native tribes who lived on their ancestral lands. For me, those trips were like visiting islands of sanity where people seemed to speak the language of my heart. They invited me to drink from their pristine rivers and to give thanks for the joy and privilege of doing so. That water quenched me deeply and started to heal the wound of living in a city which treated its river as a dump.
Today I am the mother of a Californian girl, who at the age of 12, is participating in the climate strikes, has woken up at 4am to join the crew as a production assistant for our first One Word film and has been in community with the Winnemem Wintu tribe on their Run4Salmon journey. She has grown up at the mouth of the Golden Gate, right on the path of the salmon from Michael's ancestral land.
In short, that I would come to make these films is natural, and in some ways inevitable.