Lightbeam partnered with YOLA, a mezcal company founded and run by women which supports the economic independence of women in Oaxaca, Mexico who bottle the mezcal according to a 400 year-old family recipe. Through the power of storytelling, Lightbeam and YOLA sought to celebrate indigenous culture while also highlighting the everyday challenges these migrant communities face. Lightbeam produced Cielo, a short film that centers on the eponymous non-profit, CIELO, a holistic organization that supports 30+ different Indigenous communities in LA alone and its inspiring founder, Odilia Romero.
Through the film’s portrait of Odilia, a member of the Zapotec tribe, we learn about how Odilia’s personal experience as an Indigenous migrant shaped her steadfast commitment to serve others who similarly struggle to find their place. CIELO helps migrants through not only translation and help with border documentation, but also offers a powerful connection to indigenous culture, food and community that remains often invisible in the wider LA area.
Cielo shines a light on the organization's important mission and raises awareness of challenges faced by indigenous communities. Through screening events, LA’s indigenous community and allies came together to celebrate the film and the cause. Additionally, as a multi-channel distribution platform, Lightbeam also amplified the film around the globe to its over 200K followers and reach of 1.5M. Our hope is that many see themselves in Odelia’s story and feel connected to the universality of being an immigrant and the need to support those who come here to seek better lives.
Lightbeam is the first-ever studio and streaming service focused solely on content that celebrates humanity at its best. Our studio helps brands thrive in an economy where consumers back brands who share their values. Our brand partners underwrite artfully-crafted stories (mostly short films) that align with the brand’s purpose and mission. Unlike other agencies with in-house production, all of Lightbeam’s brand-funded films are directed by hand-picked filmmakers with domain expertise; we believe that talented storytellers with passion for the subject matter will deliver much more impactful, emotionally resonating content.
For this project, Lightbeam found the perfect director to document Odilia Romero’s story in Catherine Yrisarri. Not only is Catherine an award-winning documentary and commercial filmmaker, her personal involvement in indigenous land preservation made her a perfect match for this project. The brand partner in this project, YOLA, is deeply tied to indigenous culture – in fact, the company relies on indigenous women to make the product according to ancestral traditions. Everyone in the project believes strongly that telling Odelia’s story will raise important awareness to migrant Indigenous communities.
At Lightbeam, we believe strongly in the power of storytelling to inspire, enlighten and motivate. Telling a story can disentangle narratives and paint a clearer picture of what is being experienced within a community. Our short-film, Cielo, follows Odilia closely, allowing her the space to share her knowledge, her experience, and an honest glimpse into her world as an organizer for a cause close to home. At just 10 years old, she left the highlands of Oaxaca to migrate to the US. From an early age, she struggled to navigate the new culture and find adequate support due to lack of resources in her native language. Now, through her work with CIELO, she strives to ensure other migrants do not have to navigate this experience alone.
Ever since, Odilia has positioned herself as a leader, anticipating needs of the migrant community today. During the COVID-19 pandemic, Odilia realized that she would need to intervene to bring accessible information to the migrant community. She was the first to galvanize support and through CIELO, she helped raise over $4 million in funds and food cards for Indigenous peoples in LA.
Odilia speaks eloquently about why many Indigenous peoples are looking to come to the US as well as the forces that serve as catalysts in these actions. She reminds us that the migrant experience is not monolithic as there is much diversity within the community as well as the reasons for migration.
Cielo was created to highlight the strength of the people behind CIELO as well as those whom it supports. Through Lightbeam distribution, press and social media, and now through film festival exhibition, we are proud to showcase this beautiful film and hope it continues to inspire many across the globe.
Cielo was distributed through all Lightbeam social channels (e.g., YouTube, Instagram, Facebook, TikTok) and our newsletter which reaches a combined 200K followers. The film was also distributed through our partner, YOLA Mezcal’s social channels, and various publication-platforms like Yahoo and Ad-week.
CIELO is also an organization that centers community-building. Through events like the first Annual Indigenous Literature Conference and “Weaving Words and Rhyme,” a concert featuring performers that integrate Indigenous language into their music, CIELO revitalizes Indigenous language and creates spaces of celebrating Indigenous culture as well as learning. In efforts to strengthen this community, a launch event screening for the film was held in LA. This launch screening was accompanied by a panel facilitated by Women Under The Influence (WUTI), a network that shares the stories of cinema directed by women through events and media, featuring Odilia Romero. WUTI is a network of diverse leaders, filmmakers, creatives and everything in between that are “ready and willing to spread the word.” This event received an outpouring of support and many from the Indigenous community attended alongside the creative team and social influencers who reposted the event on their social media.
Film director Catherine states, “The film has brought communities together and brought about change for good.” The film is causing ripples of impact, serving as a bridge between various communities and raising awareness about the need for accessible resources for migrant Indigenous communities. Based on the success of Cielo, another film is in the works that follows Odilia and CIELO’s service.
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