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Indigenous peoples in Oaxaca, Mexico, who must illegally burn their forests into charcoal to survive - or migrate.
Greg Rainoff
Los Angeles, California
United States
1 Team Member

Burning Paradise is the story of indigenous farmers living in the Sierra Mixteca region of Oaxaca, Mexico, whose sole source of income is the burning of trees into charcoal. Like many indigenous peoples in Latin America, they must choose between illegally destroying their own dwindling natural resources in the hopes of being able to remain at home, or risk their lives to illegally cross the US border seeking work. As one young farmer-turned-migrant summed up this no-win predicament, "for me, everything is illegal." 

     The Project began almost two years ago. After months spent gaining the confidence of local carboñeros, or charcoal makers, we were invited into their villages and forests to document their production and trafficking of forest contraband so that they could explain their side of the story and the complex motivations behind their illegal work. 

     During our time there,we lived with and recorded the lives of farmers and charcoal producers, the majority of whom have family members who have migrated. We have thus far conducted interviews with environmentalists, returning migrants trying to remain home, and members of the pueblos who have become forest engineers in hopes of defending their resources. They are all struggling to save not only the forests but also the communities who call the forest home. 

     We now need to cover the larger story of the business and its long-term implications- how and why charcoal is trafficked and sold and how its production relates to climate change, deforestation and ultimately, migration, since in much of the region it is the last and only thing keeping people home.


     Forest degradation and climate change in places like Oaxaca are projected to produce millions of additional migrants in coming decades. With the U.S. government militarizing its southern border, many Americans have come to equate immigrants with criminals, increasingly unaware that a great majority of those migrants are peasant farmers struggling with the same economic and environmental threats that are increasingly faced by millions around the globe. 

   Concurrently, while US and international agencies talk about carbon credits and forest conservation as the way to halt climate change, forest dwellers themselves have been given little say in the discussion over how to protect their lands and their own roles in protecting them. 

     Burning Paradise will act as an educational tool that will help Americans not only understand the economic conditions that cause migration but also to consider our shared dependence on the same natural environment and our role within it.



     We need support to finish filming the last chapter of this story, including funds for sustenance, transportation, and payment of local crew; and for post production, including editing time, website development and networking. Much of the money raised will be spent in the villages of Oaxaca where we film, which will have the added benefit of infusing funds into the local economies. Since the villages in which we film are very poor and yet insist on hosting and feeding us, we also try to offer financial or tactical support to participating municipalities as much as possible. So far, this project has been a work of the heart and we need to seek support if we are to finish it in a way that will give justice to the story with which we have been entrusted. 


Share our Indiegogo campaign on your Facebook page:https://www.indiegogo.com/projects/burning-paradise

- Visit and like our Facebook page: https://www.facebook.com/BurningParadise

- Better yet, like and share our trailer on our website:  www.crucibleproductions.net/burningparadise (make sure to also check out El Muro about the environmental implications of the US-Mexico Border Wall- it's posted in its entirety for free on the website)

 Present the Burning Paradise trailer at your school or community group as a fundraiser or educational event. Contact us for more information and resources.

- If you host a radio, internet or TV show, invite us to talk about our campaign and film project. Feel free to email us: cruciblefilms@gmail.com

Mil gracias in advance for your support!

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This campaign ended on December 20, 2013
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