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THE DEFENDERS is the feature-length documentary that champions the frontline heroes fighting against illegal gold mining in the remote Amazon rainforest of Madre de Dios, Peru. In an all but forgotten terrain, far beyond the reach of law, sophisticated mafias run complex illicit economies, turning forests into treeless deserts, poisoning the water, and enslaving women and children. In this no-man’s-land, a war rages. Criminal mining gangs gun down humble farmers and laborers, steal their land, and intimidate outside help with death threats. With no one left to call for help, community activists have banded together as the unlikely defenders of their homelands. Unfolding in the world’s most important ecosystem in mitigating the effects of global climate change, this untold story culminates in a desperate but heroic grassroots stand against illegal gold mining to protect the future for us all.

Sarah Lupton, Director

Sarah Lupton is a filmmaker and world traveler. Hailing from Greensboro, NC, she wrote and produced ESPN’s LET THEM WEAR TOWELS, which premiered at the 2013 Tribeca Film Festival. She was senior producer of Ovation TV’s 6-part docu-series, “The Fashion Fund” (2014), and associate producer of KNUCKLEBALL! (2012), which aired on Showtime and premiered at the 2012 Tribeca Film Festival. She has worked with clients such as Condé Nast, Google, and A&E. Sarah earned her BA in English with Highest Distinction at Duke University and her MBA at Wake Forest University, where she graduated Beta Gamma Sigma. She currently resides in Winston-Salem, NC.

Dr. Amanda Stronza, Producer


Dr. Amanda Stronza is an anthropologist, professor, and photographer based in Austin, Texas. In 2013, she founded Ecoexist, a non-profit organization in Botswana, focused on fostering coexistence between people and elephants. Dr. Stronza’s research, field work, scholarly publications, and photography focus on community-based conservation, ecotourism, and human-wildlife coexistence. She has spent 25 years working with local communities, conservation scientists, and government officials in Peru. She is a recipient of the national Praxis Award in Anthropology for translating anthropological knowledge into concrete action to support community conservation and development in Africa and Latin America. In 2016, she was featured as one of 50 global conservation leaders in the book, Saving Wild: Inspiration from 50 Leading Conservationists, with a foreword by Jane Goodall (Ed. L. Robinson).

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