Tixinda Film Project

Tixinda Film Prjoject is a fundraising campaign to produce the documentary film "Tixinda. The Purple Snail", an extraordinary story of harmonious coexistence between humans and nature through the sustainable use of a sea snail. The film will tell the life of Mauro Habacuc Avendaño Luís, an old "tintorero" (dyer) that is fighting for the conservation of the snail species and tradition and his life in the community of Pinotepa de Don Luís. Habacuc is the leader of the "Tintoreros" group and is the winner of the National Prize for Conservation in 2015. This project is inspired by his desire to hand down this millenary tradition to future generations before it may disappear completely.

On the southern coast of Mexico, in the state of Oaxaca, an ancient civilisation of Mixtec people have built a peculiar bond with nature through their traditional use of the ink of a special sea snail. Called Tixinda in the Mixtec language, this dye has a strong simbolism and holiness that comes out from an alchemic process: nourished by the salty sea, oxidized by the windy air, warmed by the sunlight, the purple colour is strictly related with power, strength, fertility, life and death.

For generations, tintoreros (dyers) would travel about 300 kilometres to the coast, where they bravely collect these snails from rocks in the sea. They then hike back to the mountains, where women weave the purple thread into traditional clothes

The extraction activity of the dye is done in complete harmony with the ecosystem. The snail releases a liquid which, when applied to fabric and exposed to air and sunlight turns material from light green to an intense purple colour.  The tintoreros look for the purple snail just in a specific period of the year, from October to March, guided by the position of the Moon in every month. They have learned to benefit from the creature without harming it: after extraction the snail is returned to the rock face. Later, in the rainy season, while men plant in the field and women hand-make garments with purple-dyed thread, at sea, purple snails reproduce and spawn, thus repeating the biological cycle of the species and the indigenous ritual for hundreds and hundreds of years.

This tradition can be considered one of the most ancient examples of environmental sustainability. Through the eyes of a tintorero you can see a purple ocean of life, and the wisdom, that can teach us to protect the Planet

Unfortunately, the snail’s habitat now exists solely within Huatulco National Park (HNP) area and this unique practice is under threat. In the past thirty years the population of the snail has fallen drastically, due to increased development, industrial manipulation, tourism and climate change. This provoked a simultaneous decrease in interest amongst the youngsters, who are no longer interested in pursuing their cultural heritage. There are now only 15 tintoreros left in Pinotepa de Don Luis, and this ancient dying practice still exist just in this small part of the Oaxacan Coasts.
We cannot allow this tradition to disappear. 

This project celebrates cultural diversity and environmental sustainability.

The production of a documentary will help to spread  awareness on this topic both in Mexico and abroad.

We should all promote and protect these examples of sustainability and use them as an opportunity to reconsider our impact on the environment. 

Through the production of this documentary film we aim to achieve three specific goals:

1. Strengthen the biodiversity conservation efforts and the cultural rescue of the Mixtec tradition; 
2. Encouraging gender equality and empowerment of the indigenous women, key in the natural and cultural heritage conservation process; 
3. Improve the local economy by fostering the consumption of local products (traditional Mixtec’s textiles dyed with purple snails and others handcraft products) and enhancing local green jobs (“eco-friendly” dyeing and weaving traditional Mixtec’s activities).

Huatulco Bay is the only place in the world where fabric is dyed using this technique. In the government’s quest to turn Huatulco into the “Cancun of the pacific”, they risk destroying the region’s biodiversity. Huatulco has experienced rapid touristic development along the coast and jungle which puts the habitat of the snail under constant threat: poachers regularly enter the HNP illegally, selling the snails to tourists who are unaware of its cultural significance and unique position in nature. The community of the tintoreros is fighting to carry on their beautiful tradition.

Help us to support the ñu savi people from Pinotepa de Don Luis!

(Thank you in the Mixtec language)

We'll be posting updates through the entire duration of the filming process. We will upload them here and on our dedicated Instagram account @tixindaproject. Please follow us for updates on cast, crew and all aspects of the production.

We're looking to raise €6000 to get us through production, but hopefully more to get us also through post-production and onto the festival circuit

Where does your money go?
Your support will cover everything that goes into making the film. Specifically, the €6000 will be spent to:
> Cover the crew’s travel and living expenses during the shooting in Mexico: this will include locations, meals, vehicles rental;
> The hiring of audiovisual equipment, such as drones and underwater camera;
> A contribution to the local participants of the documentary for every day they will take part in the filming process.

All our supporters will receive a digital copy of the documentary and whoever will donate more than € 50 will be credited in the film!

ALSO if you would like to support the film in any other way please reach out. And feel free to forward this on to friends or people who might have a particular interest in some aspect of the film as the indigenous culture, the conservation process, or filmmaking in general.

Thank you so much for supporting Tixinda Film Project!

There are risks with any film production which include losing cast or crew, weather issues and other unpredictable events. There's always a plan B and plan C for film shoots. We'll remain flexible and diligent in our efforts to get it done.

We need to raise €6000 before the end of December 2019.
The Tixinda Team will travel to Oaxaca at the beginning of January 2020. The filming will start during the second half of January and will last until March, moving between Pinotepa de Don Luís, where the tintoreros live, and Huatulco National Park, the habitat of the purple snails. 
The final short will be ready by June 2020.

41676920_1569232273521226_r.jpeg//Mixtec Route "Ruta Mixteca": from Pinotepa de Don Luís to HNP (Oaxaca, Mexico).

41676920_1569232352643695_r.jpeg//Harvesting points in the HNP aerea (Oaxaca, Mexico).


We are a team composed by three friends who share a passion for Mexico and social issues.

//Writer & FX Reasercher//
Chiara Vannucchi is an Italian social researcher, conservationist and visual artist. She has carried out several studies in Latin America. In 2018 she carried out an academic research project about the cultural and environmental conservation practices within the community of Pinotepa de Don Luis. She particularly focuses on the relationship between humans and environmental sustainability. Since last year Chiara has collaborated with the Huatulco National Park, creating actions to protect the natural and cultural heritage of the Mexican coast. As part of the strategy, the goal is to produce a documentary film to tell the story of the purple snail, in order to educate local people and visitors, to protect the species and to respect the environment and the indigenous tradition in the Huatulco area.

Valeria Luongo is an Italian photographer, video-maker and anthropologist. She spent approximately two years living in Mexico, carrying out academic research in the area of the Sierra Norte de Puebla and in the city of Puebla de Zaragoza. In 2013, in completion of her postgraduate degree in Anthropology, she carried out research on the conception, prevention and treatment of obesity within the tradition medicine of the indigenous communities of Cuetzalan del Progreso. 
Valeria also produced a short documentary and a photographic project about Coca Cola consumption in rural Mexico in 2017.

Rhys Lewis is a filmmaker and visual anthropologist. From 2012 to 2014 Rhys Lewis lived in Mexico, studying Anthropology at the University of Guadalajara. He has since gone on to produce a number of films related to immigration and identity. He currently works as a freelance development researcher in television helping to produce develop several documentaries for major broadcasters such as the BBC. He was awarded a One World Media Fellowship in 2019 which included a small grant toward the production of Tixinda. In August 2019 he has been selected as a recipient for the BFI funds for short films.

//Other collaborators and friends//
Omar Gabriel Gordillo Solis 
is an expert biologist of the SEMARNAT - Secretariat of Environment and Natural Resources of Mexico and he was the Director of the Huatulco National Park since 2013 until 2019. He shared with us the idea of the Tixinda Project and supported us all the time spent in Huatulco.

Luis Alberto Alvarez is a Mexican artist and composer. He will compose the original soundtrack of the  film. You can hear some of his evocative works on Soundcloud.

Leone Albinati is an italian doctor with a passion for graphics and illustration. He created the logo of the Tixinda Film Project.


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Fundraising team: Tixinda Team (3)

Tixinda Film Project 
Roma, LZ, Italy
Chiara Vannucchi 
Team member
Rhys Lewis 
Team member
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