The Guardians main content.

The Guardians

An army of monarch butterflies resting on tree branches

Ben Crosbie, Tessa Moran
2018 | 70 mins
Country of Production: USA
Country Featured: Mexico
NY Premiere | Directors in Attendance

A quiet meditation on the migration of the monarch butterfly becomes a political melodrama. A Mexican Indigenous community goes to battle to protect their land, which is also the migratory home of the butterflies. Facing marauding loggers and diminishing crop returns, how far will the farmers of Donaciano Ojeda go to provide a sustainable future for their children?

Plays with Cedar Tree of Life

Co-presented by Cinema Tropical

With generous support provided by The Consulate General of Canada and Mexican Cultural Institute New York


Resilience in Motion | In Their Own Words

“It becomes quickly apparent in The Guardians that life in Donaciano Ojeda is challenging. There's no plumbing or running water, cooking is done over wood-burning stoves, clothes are worn threadbare, and livelihoods are made by working the land. So it gives audience pause when we hear a community member declare passionately in one community meeting: ‘Donaciano Ojeda está rico’/’Donaciano Ojeda is rich.’ He’s referring to the bounty of trees that occupy their land, natural resources they decided as a community to stop logging and instead protect. Yet the resolve to protect for long-term gains continues to be tested in the film. Character Santos gave up logging for farming avocados, but we see how a plague could devastate the year’s crop. And despite the steady effort by tree caretaker Aristeo to raise saplings for reforestation, he faces a community that struggles to see the long-term benefit. It’s enough pressure to question how their efforts for sustainability don't collapse in an instant. Yet we see them persist, all in service of ‘the next generation,’ a mantra that becomes that much more powerful when we see new generations of monarch butterflies migrating each year to the forest they protect. It becomes clear that family and strong community bonds become the potion that makes resilience possible for Santos and Aristeo.”

– Ben Crosbie and Tessa Moran | Directors, The Guardians