After the Forest [in progress]

In 2011, the Indigenous P’urhépecha in Cherán, Michoacan, Mexico, locked down the town, barricading all entry points to the community. They took the arms in order to fight directly against drug-related violence, organized crime and illegal logging that dominated the area for many decades. They advocated for political autonomy and after submitting their case to the Federal Electoral Court, they won the case. In 2012 they assumed political control over the town, expelling police force and other forms of state control.

An Indigenous autonomous government has been consolidated in Mexico, in which there is no mayor, police, or any political parties. Cherán is the first autonomous Indigenous community with a new system of governance built on P’urhépecha traditions, officially recognized by the Mexican government. The Indigenous autonomous government in Cherán stands as a successful case for political emancipation and environmental protection against extractivism, turning the forest into a site of resistance.


The state of Michoacán has a long history of exploitation and extractivism against Indigenous communities. Michoacán’s vast forest has been subjected to decades of illegal logging, a fact very well known but little exposed, pushing the Indigenous P’urhépecha to become both slaves and accomplices of those crimes. The state of Michoacán is recognized for the development of civil militia and Indigenous guerrillas, known as ‘grupos de autodefensa’ and ‘ronda comunitaria’. Ecocide, state-sponsored violence and drug trafficking clashing against civil militia and Indigenous resistance.




Director statement

I’ve been filming and conducting field work in the state of Michoacán for several years, becoming familiar not only with the people involved in these violent events, but also with the landscape. The reason for making this film is both political and personal, as memories of the pastoral landscapes of my childhood clashes against contemporary images of extreme violence. Unlike a journalist, who generally sticks to the factual and the historical, my intention as a documentarian is to present a series of cinematic descriptions of what it means to live in Mexico in this precise moment.

I’m interested in depicting how these violent processes unfold in the landscape and how past atrocities continue to haunt the present.

Victor Arroyo.


Financial support

Programme Documentaire à Risque.

Mitacs Globalink Research Award.


Additional support

Ministère de l’Enseignement supérieur, Recherche, Science et Technologie.
Gouvernement du Québec.

Ministère de l’Éducation et de l’Enseignement Supérieur.
Gouvernement du Québec.

Concordia University.
Faculty of Fine Arts.

El Colegio de Michoacan.
Centro de Estudios en Geografia Humana.



[ documentation ]

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