In 1997, the Cofan tribe of the Ecuadorian Amazon made a desperate decision. Pushed to the edge of their territory by oil development and toxic pollution, they feared extinction. The Cofan people sent one of their own, 10-year-old Hugo Lucitante, out of their remote village in the jungle to be educated in the U.S., in hopes that he would return to lead them into a better future. OIL & WATER: Hugo’s First Flight is an animated short film that tells the story of Hugo’s journey to Seattle, Wash. Told in his own words, Hugo’s memory is a sweet and heartbreaking story of a courageous boy who traveled to a wildly alien land to become the first Cofan to graduate from an American high school. He is now in college and preparing to return to Ecuador to help his people. OIL & WATER: Hugo’s First Flight was animated by Drew Christie and directed by Francine Strickwerda and Laurel Spellman Smith.
For more information about Hugo and the Cofan struggle, see the new feature documentary, OIL & WATER, at film festivals around the country. Find it on the (PBS) World Channel on September 21, 2014 as part of the Global Voices series. And, Hugo is only half of the story. In OIL & WATER, you'll also meet David Poritz, a young American who has launched the world's first company to "fair trade" certify oil.