Juan MejiaJuan Mejia

TFI Latin America Fund | 2011

Juan Mejia Botero is a film director with experience in feature length and short documentaries. His work has focused on community, grassroots media and collaborative, activist documentaries. Juan Mejia was born on July 11, 1977 in Bogotá, Colombia. He came to the United States where he received a bachelor's degree in Anthropology & Sociology from Swarthmore College in 2000. During the following year as a Thomas J. Watson Fellowship recipient he traveled, lived, and worked as a community video facilitator, guiding grassroots media projects in several countries in Latin America including Colombia, Ecuador, Brazil, Peru, and Chile. The projects trained indigenous communities, grassroots organizers, peasant cooperatives, and street children in basic video, and the possibilities of self-representation while questioning mainstream media. At the end of his fellowship Juan Mejia began a long lasting relationship with two Afrocolombian grassroots organizations: AFRODES (Association for Displaced Afrocolombians) and PCN (Process of Black Communities). Among the media projects carried out with these organizations were a grassroots participatory video project with 5 displaced youth, where they trained for 3 months in video production and designed and shot a short documentary about forced displacement. The workshops produced the documentary A Través de Estos Ojos, which explores the power of grassroots media and self-representation. The collaboration with the PCN produced a TV Spot for the 2005 Colombian Census encouraging self-recognition among Afrocolombians in the hope of helping produce more accurate figures on the afrodescendant population in Colombia. In August 2004 Juan Mejia culminated the University of Texas' masters program in Latin American Studies with an emphasis on development and communications. After a year continuing his work with the Asociación de Afrocolombianos Desplazados (AFRODES) in Colombia, he entered the masters program in Social Documentation at the University of California, Santa Cruz and graduated in 2007. His MA thesis project was the medium-length documentary "Uprooted", about the life of a displaced Afrocolombian family in the Pacific Coast of Colombia. Uprooted has won a number of awards and played widely in film festivals in the U.S. and abroad. Thanks in part to a Film Grant from the Ministry of Culture, he is currently working on a feature documentary on the impacts of bio-fuels on the forced displacement of Black communities in Colombia, titled The Battle for Land. For this purpose he is currently living and working in Bogotá, Colombia.

The Battle for Land

TFI Latin America Fund | 2011