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The Garifuna Journey

by Andrea E. Leland and Kathy Berger

A first voice testimony celebrating the resiliency of the Garifuna people and their traditions. 

Genocide, exile, Diaspora and persecution did not break the spirit of the Garifuna people. Descendants of African and Carib-Indian ancestors, the Garifuna fought to maintain their homeland on the island of St. Vincent in the Caribbean.  The Garifuna resisted slavery. For this love of freedom, they were exiled from St. Vincent to Roatan in Honduras by the British in 1797. Despite exile and subsequent Diaspora, their traditional culture survives today.  It is a little known story that deserves its place in the annals of the African Diaspora.  

In first person Garifuna voices, this documentary presents the history, the language, food, music, dance and spirituality of the Garifuna culture.  It is a celebratory documentary, with engaging scenes of fishing, cooking, dancing, cassava preparation, thatching a temple, spiritual ritual,  ritual music and dance all demonstrating  the Garifuna link to the Carib-African past.


quoteA range of native voices informs The Garifuna Journey, and the absence of an omniscient narrative voice is striking.The care with which the producers executed the project is exemplary, and their engagement with Garifuna tradition bearers, scholars, clergy, teachers, artists, writers, musicians, activists, technicians, community members, and community organizations anticipated the grassroots
perspective variously manifest in the other, subsequently produced documentaries.

Michael Stone, Princeton
Caribbean Studies Vol. 36, No.2

quoteIn The Garifuna Journey, the input of cultural activists and scholars has yielded a sensitive, balanced portrait of Garifuna ritual life and identity. Their film would be a most appropriate complement to university courses on the Caribbean, the African Diaspora, and Latin American ethnography.
Mark Moberg, Ph.D. American Anthropologist

quoteA deftly constructed and moving portrayal of a people who have been dramatically successful in retaining their sense of identity while synthesizing into Garifuna culture the best of the worlds through which they have passed.
Katherine Staiano Ross, Ph.D. Anthropologist

quoteThe Garifuna Journey Project has helped us to produce a wonderful, authentic film about our people which validates us and will prove useful back home...we are very, very satisfied and recognize the powerful role it can play in our educational programs.
Sebastian and Isabel Cayetano
Board of Directors, National Garifuna Council

quote...a vital step in archiving the rich culture and fascinating trajectory of the Garifuna of Belize. The video is a prime model for the use of the moving image in preserving living culture.
Huntington International Independent Film Festival

More Reviews


  • 2009 Muestra Internacional de Cine Documental y Etnográfico en Puerto Rico

  • Echoes of the Bone Conference, Northwestern University, Evanston, IL.
  • Caribbean Studies Conference, Antigua
  • American Anthropology Association Film Festival, Philadelphia, PA.
  • Award of Merit, Latin American Studies Association Film Festival
  • Field Museum of Natural History, Chicago, IL.
  • Artistic Excellence in Ethnographic Video, Huntington International Film Festival, NY.
  • Honorable Mention, Philadelphia International Film Festival
  • Breckenridge Festival of Film, CO.
  • Honorable Mention, Columbus International Film & Video Festival
  • Telluride Film & Video Festival
  • Smithsonian, National Museum of American Indian, New York
  • Finalist, Best Documentary, Pan African Film Festival, Los Angeles
  • 18th Bilan du Film Ethnographique, Paris, France
  • Bronze Apple, National Educational Film & Video Festival

Resource Web Sites

appleCultural Survival

appleGarifuna World

appleUNESCO site for Garifuna

The Garifuna Journey film was submitted to UNESCO to assist in gaining the  title:

Proclamation of Masterpieces of Oral and Intangible Heritage of Humanity.

Resources to Download

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Visit the official website for The Garifuna Journey

The Garifuna Journey

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