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Open Access Publications from the University of California

A Wild Idea


A Wild Idea Directed by Verónica Moscoso

A Wild Idea is a half-hour documentary about the Yasuní-ITT Initiative, Ecuador’s unprecedented proposal for fighting global climate change: In exchange for payments from the world community, the country will leave untouched its largest oil reserves.

The film takes the viewer to the Yasuní National Park, in the Ecuadorian Amazon, capturing the rain forest’s stunning biodiversity. The film also focuses on another kind of wealth—millions of barrels of oil lying beneath the part of the park known as the ITT Block.

Exploiting the ITT seemed to be the logical step Ecuador had to take, but recent political changes—in particular, the election of a progressive president in 2006—have changed the way the country views oil development. Through testimony representing different perspectives and rich archival video, A Wild Idea shows how the seemingly utopian ideal of keeping valuable oil underground turned into an official proposal.

With the help of animated graphics, the film explains how the Yasuni-ITT Initiative works. As the film progresses, the audience learns about the Ecuadorian government’s efforts to promote it’s wild idea abroad and the reception the idea has received at a national and international level.

A Wild Idea features the Waorani people, present-day residents of Yasuní. Invaluable archival film brings to life the tragic consequences heedless oil exploration had for the Waorani. More important, their serves as an introduction to two splinter clans, the Tagaeri and Taromenane, which live in isolation deep in the forest but who would likely disappear were oil extraction to take place in the ITT.

The film explores the complexity of oil development within a fragile ecosystem, its local and global implications, and its effects on the planet as a whole. If accepted, the Yasuní-ITT initiative, will protect an unusually pristine area of the Amazon, perhaps the most biodiverse place on Earth. It would also respect the rights of two of the last nomadic tribes that live there in voluntary isolation. And it would avoid the emission of hundreds of millions of tons of carbon dioxide into the atmosphere.

But Ecuador is poor; traditionally, the country has depended mainly on oil income to survive. It can’t afford to leave the resource undeveloped without help from other countries.

A Wild Idea will leave the audience wondering whether Ecuador will succeed in altering the way the world manages its ever-dwindling resources.

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