Pitzer Spotlights

2007-2008 Spotlight Archives

Caitlin Pierce ’08: Student’s Documentary Debuts at Film Festival

Caitlin Pierce '08
Caitlin Pierce '08

Caitlin Pierce ’08 debuted her documentary, Preguntando Nuestro Derecho a Turismo (Questioning Our Right to Tourism), at the 2007 Niche Film Festival in Portland, Oregon, on August 19. While completing the Pitzer in Ecuador: Intensive Language and Culture study abroad program in Spring 2007, Pierce created the film as part of her independent study project.

”I am interested in human rights and social justice issues, and I wanted to uncover the real story behind community tourism in Ecuador. My original question was: How do tourists justify their presence in the community?,” Pierce explained. What she quickly found was that most Western tourists justify their presence through the money that they bring to the community. So, that led Pierce to investigate further the true effect of money on these communities. “It was very interesting to explore how values change within the communities with the introduction of capitalist culture. Before money, no one is poor. The poor only exist in a capitalistic culture,” she continued.

Pierce decided to make a film because she was drawn to the accessibility of the medium. She was the first Pitzer student to make a film for an independent study project in the Intensive Language and Culture program, so she had to figure out logistics like how to rent a camera. “I interviewed approximately twenty tourists in the indigenous market and focused on indigenous communities around Cotacachi, which is north of Otavalo,” she recalled. Pierce credits the “rural experience” component of the Pitzer program with helping her make contacts within the community and conducting interviews with local families.

La Familia Alta from the community of Santa Barbara before their youngest daughter’s First Communion
Pierce’s indigenous host family from the community of Morochos

“Everyone was very impressed with my anthropological point-of-view. I believe that when most people study tourism they focus on how to promote tourism. My study, on the other hand, offered a critique on tourism,” Pierce said. “Pitzer has helped me think about everything I do and that each person affects things—that it is our choice whether we want to effect things in a positive or negative way.”

Pierce is majoring in anthropology and Media Studies as well as minoring in production and Spanish. As a senior, she finds Pitzer’s supportive community to be what she values most about the College. “The concentration of amazing, passionate people at Pitzer is hard to come by, and I am so lucky to live in the middle of it. People take action when they hear about an issue instead of waiting for someone else to,” she continued. Pierce is currently studying abroad at Ewha Woman’s University in Seoul, South Korea.

—Emily Cavalcanti

About the Niche Film and Music Festival

The Niche Film and Music Festival, a nonprofit organization, aims to create a favorable environment for experiences and ways of learning that can develop beliefs and success. There are certain events in everyone’s lives they will never forget, instances that had such an impact on us they possibly helped map out the who and the what we will become. Niche is innovative, creative and thoughtful, calling upon mentorship, modeling and the resources available to find the most efficient path to your destination. Visit www.nichefestival.com for more information.