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The Tower of Babel

Synopsis

In this documentary series, we will attend mysterious and secretive rituals, as well as initiation ceremonies. We will participate in hunts and harvest parties. We will study how each people builds their homes in a different way and how the settlements adapt to the different geographic areas. The music, dance, and paintings of the different clans will allow us to delve into varied cosmogonies. The way births, weddings, and funerals are celebrated will help us to understand each people. Tribal wars and traditional combat will bring us closer to the personality of each ethnic group. And finally, we will find the answers to the questions that, since the beginning of time, man has made at all latitudes: Who are we? What are we doing here?

THE TOWER OF BABEL EP. 01: WARRIORS OF THE GREAT SAVANNAH
Masai Mara, the traditional territory of the Masai tribe, straddling the border of Kenya and Tanzania, is the setting for this episode of The Tower of Babel, in which we approach a Manyata, a traditional Masai dwelling, to attend the ceremonies in which the boys become warriors.

With the Masai, the Samburu, and the Pokot, we will delve into the customs and ways of life of some ethnic groups which in only a few years have had to accustom themselves to being invaded by the thousands of tourists who come each year to observe the region’s wildlife.

The prohibition on hunting, the establishment of limits to the traditional grazing lands, and the daily contact with curious visitors who have come from all over the world are rapidly changing the ways of life and cultures of the Kenyan tribes.
THE TOWER OF BABEL EP. 02: THROUGH THE LAND OF NOMADS
Situated between Siberia and China, Mongolia and the lives of its inhabitants have always been conditioned by the climate. The endless winters make farming practically impossible and endanger any livestock. That is why Mongolia has always been home to nomads, although, throughout the 20th Century, and especially for political reasons, the old customs of the descendents of Genghis Khan were threatened.

In this episode of The Tower of Babel we will search for the roots of the Mongols’ nomadic culture with a family of camel drivers in the Gobi Desert; a group of Nenets, a tribe that always lives on the edges of winter; a community of Buriat cattle breeders; and a group of Kazakh falconers who wander the icy plains on horseback, carrying their fascinating golden eagles on their arms.
THE TOWER OF BABEL EP. 03: THE JEWEL OF THE MEKONG
The Mekong River is the most important travel route in Southeast Asia. Thousands of Vietnamese who make their living as traders live on its waters.

Following the Vietnam War, which completely transformed the country, Vietnamese society has gradually recovered its ancient traditions.

Nonetheless, the times have changed. The old traditional pharmacies where popular remedies were kept now sell their products over the Internet, while the floating markets of Canto are full of products manufactured in China.

The Bay of Halong, where the fishermen live in floating towns, is now flooded with tourists, and the motorboats loaded with Europeans scare off the fish.

In this episode of The Tower of Babel we will tour the Mekong River to discover the way of life of the thousands of men and women who live in homes that float on its waters.
THE TOWER OF BABEL EP. 04: SURVIVING THE END OF THE WORLD
The indigenous communities of Paraguay experienced their own particular end of the world during the Chaco War. The Bolivian and Paraguayan armies fought this territorial war on the traditional lands of ethnic groups such as the Ayoreo, the Maká, the Nivaclé, and the Lengua. Since that time, these cultures have tried to survive outside their traditional territories and in truly precarious living conditions.

To the south, near the Brazilian border, the lumber industry cut down the forests and cornered a group of Aché natives, who 30 years ago suffered the traumatic experience of confronting the white man. Fortunately, they survived, but ever since then they have been struggling to integrate into a society that doesn’t want them.

In Bahia Negra, near the Paraguay River, a tribe of Ishir Indians has taken the opposite path. After suffering the tyranny of an unscrupulous group of Evangelists for many years, they decided to expel them and return to their old way of life.

In this episode of The Tower of Babel we will travel throughout Paraguay to get to know the numerous indigenous cultures that are trying to form part of Paraguayan society without renouncing their cultural heritage.
THE TOWER OF BABEL EP. 05: LAND OF DIGNITY
The King of Kaya has a castle in the middle of the savanna, in the desolate lands of the old Upper Volta. A traditional court survives there, with its warriors, its troubadours, its harem, and its subjects, who come to the court each year to pay the taxes they owe their Lord. It would be a trip back in time, if it weren’t for the fact that their ruler flies to Paris once a month and travels the country’s miserable roads in a modern all-terrain vehicle.

In the south of the country, along the border with Ghana, a funeral is held in honor of a warrior who in his youth had hunted a lion. Of course, the people attending the funeral are wearing blue jeans and the jerseys of European football clubs, and no lion have been seen in these lands for years.

In this episode of The Tower of Babel we will travel throughout Burkina Faso, a country where the weight of tradition and the past clash with modern times.
THE TOWER OF BABEL. EP. 06 THE GIFT OF THE PACHAMAMA
Peru is the South American country where the importance of its traditions is most evident. When the Spanish conquistadors arrived here, the indigenous cultures were greatly endangered. The Andean peoples lost their lands, they were forbidden to speak their language, and even their gods were prohibited.
A tour through the history of Peru will allow us to discover the various cultures that lived there prior to the arrival of the Spaniards, as well as the ways in which their customs and beliefs have survived.

In this episode of The Tower of Babel we will search for the children of the Sun God and the Pacha Mama, and to that end we will visit Macchu Picchu, Lake Titicaca, and the peaks of the Andes. In the tiny villages on the high plains we will witness ancestral rites and practices that have survived to our times by hiding their pre-Columbian essence under the appearance of Catholic ceremonies.
THE TOWER OF BABEL. EP. 07 JOURNEY TO THE PAPUAN TERRITORY
Travelling to Papua New Guinea is like stepping back in time; a long journey to the Neolithic. It may be the only place in the world where fire is set by natural means, where stone axes are used and where thousands of people die each year by arrow wounds.

In Papua more than a thousand ethnic groups still live together, and more than 700 hundred different languages are spoken.

In this documentary we will set travel from Port Moresby, the capital to find the most extraordinary and singular minority tribes: the Mud-men, who dress up as spirits to frighten their enemies away; the Engas, the head-choppers who mummify their deceased by smoking them; the Hulis, furious warriors who paint their faces in yellow to create panic; or the Crocodile-men, who mutilate their bodies with hundreds of cuts in their skin to make them look like their Crocodile Gods.

The Sepik river, the Highlands and the dense forests will be the settings where we will travel through this documentary.
THE TOWER OF BABEL. EP. 08 THE INHABITANTS OF THE TIMELESS AFRICA
A journey to the heart of West Africa. In Ivory Coast we can find almost all the scenarios in the continent. Desert, Sahel, Forest Sabana and jungles.

Our trip begins at Yamosukro, in the Our Lady of Peace basilica, a copy of Vatican built by its first president, Félix Houphouët-Boigny.

From North to South we will visit the most important ethnic groups in the country: Loby, Senoufo, Akan, Añi, Guere. At the Dan territory we will visit the sacred liana bridges, built at night by the spirits.

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