Filmmaker Sarah Gerber Receives The L&P Special Jury Award at UN Women’s Global Voices Film Festival

This past weekend, Lipstick&Politics was honored to host a reception for the Global Voices Film Festival in partnership with UN Women, an event that is taking a crucial step in combating the vast gender inequality existent in the film industry by showcasing the stories and perspectives of a talented group of female filmmakers.

"Special Jury Award" sponsor Lipstick & Politics at UN Global Voices Film Festival, photo courtesy of Lipstick & Politics

"Special Jury Award" sponsor Lipstick & Politics at UN Global Voices Film Festival, photo courtesy of Lipstick & Politics

After watching and judging the films, Lipstick&Politics awarded one filmmaker, Sarah Gerber, the Lipstick&Politics Special Jury Award for her film showcased at the Global Voices Film Festival, The Way Back To Yarasquin.

"Special Jury Award" presented by Mira Veda of Lipstick & Politics at UN Global Voices Film Festival to Filmmaker Sarah Gerber and coffee farmer/entrepreneur Mayra Orellana-Powell. Photo by Lipstick & Politic

"Special Jury Award" presented by Mira Veda of Lipstick & Politics at UN Global Voices Film Festival to Filmmaker Sarah Gerber and coffee farmer/entrepreneur Mayra Orellana-Powell. Photo by Lipstick & Politic

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The Way Back To Yarasquin is a short documentary film that tells a story of origins, community, bravery, and selflessness through the medium of coffee. The film follows the life of Mayra Orellana-Powell, who grew up in a rural coffee growing community in Honduras. While most people who grow up in these environments tend to stay in their village without breaking away from the farming life they were born into, Mayra was the second person in her entire village in Santa Elena to venture away from home. Her journey brought her to the United States, where she sought out a college education and a degree in business, and ran a coffee business in the Bay Area, Catracha Coffee.

Founder of Lipstick & Politics Mira Veda and winner of 'Special Jury Award' to Filmmaker Sarah Gerber

Founder of Lipstick & Politics Mira Veda and winner of 'Special Jury Award' to Filmmaker Sarah Gerber

In this film, we witness Mayra’s experience as she leaves the U.S., where she had assimilated to a culture with entirely different values and goals from those she was taught at home, and returns to visit her origins in her tight-knit farming community.

In Honduras, the coffee farmers struggle with extreme economic issues, such as skyrocketing interest rates on loans needed to support farming: a cycle that traps these farmers in debt for generations. However, because Mayra studied business in the United States, she is in a better position than her fellow villagers to run a small coffee company in Santa Elena. She takes on multiple roles – importer, co-op organizer, and salesperson – and is able to give back to her community in doing so.

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Filmmaker Sarah Gerber and coffee farmer/entrepreneur Mayra Orellana-Powell. Photo by Lipstick & Politics

Throughout the documentary, Mayra cultivates the sense of community instilled in her during her youth and builds on her prior experience running Catracha Coffee. She brings this sense of community back with her to Santa Elena, whether she’s working with farmers, importers, baristas, or the customers. Mayra generously allows us to see raw vulnerability in the documentary, sharing her story on the deepest level, which is a testament to the honest connection and trust that the filmmakers achieved with these wonderful coffee makers during production.

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Filmgoer and Content Director of Lipstick & Politics Jessica Ty enjoys some fresh coffee. Photo by Lipstick & Politic

Filmgoer and Content Director of Lipstick & Politics Jessica Ty enjoys some fresh coffee. Photo by Lipstick & Politic

Director Sarah Gerber shows us Mayra’s beautiful story with unique perspective, raw authenticity, an emphasis on human connections, and cinematic grace. Gerber shot this film with the production studio she founded, Twenty Twenty,  where she uses her talents for photography, film, and writing to leave the world a better place. With a mission statement emphasizing values like originality, simplicity, audacity, wonder, meaning, and belonging, Twenty Twenty seeks to create art that invokes beneficial change and a new perspective.

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Gerber is passionate about people, connection, art, storytelling, and change, as well as traveling and the way it expands your world-view. By capturing new perspectives through visual art, Gerber feels you can connect people with what matters most to them, and make the world a better place in the process. Her inspiration and motivation is shown clearly throughout The Way Back To Yarasquin,, as we watch Mayra connect with communities who show visible adoration for the generous and selfless work she does in Honduras and in the Bay Area.

Cinematically, the work is compelling. Each shot captures the authenticity of emotion in Mayra and her admirers, the beauty of the coffee bean and its production, and the depth of human connection that exists in coffee communities regardless of borders.

Women who use their artistic talents with courage to connect diverse individuals and encourage positive change in the world are women who align directly with our values here at Lipstick&Politics. Because of this, we are incredibly honored to award Gerber the Lipstick&Politics Special Jury Award for her phenomenal film and essential mission.

Just in case you missed the film, here's the trailer to give you a taste of the fantastic work Sarah Gerber is doing...