Peru’s legislative Culture and Cultural Heritage Commission approved a bill for the promotion of indigenous films in the country, aiming to provide platforms for the production, distribution and exhibition of films by the 55 indigenous communities recognized by the country.
The “Law of Promotion of the Peruvian Cinematographic and Audiovisual Activity” was an effort by different organizations related to filmmaking, including interested individuals, and had the support of the Culture Ministry and the Presidency.
The project also aims to promote the inclusion of indigenous languages, 47 recognized in Peru, in film production and content, trying to counter the predominance of the Spanish language.
It also addresses the centralization of film industry in Lima, recognizing the importance of promoting this powerful tool elsewhere in the country.
“The production of regional cinema is fertile mostly in the Ayacucho, Puno, Junin and Cajamarca regions-departments with a strong presence of indigenous people, but non-existent in many departments of Peru,” the project reads. “To that we must add that 1 of every 3 feature films in Peru are produced from Lima.”
According to Emilio Bustamante Quispe and Jaime Luna Victoria, authors of ‘Multiple Perspectives: The Peruvian Regional Cinema,’ most of regional filmmakers invest their own money into the production of their work with the aid of friends and family members.
In theory, the Peruvian government recognizes and protects ethnic, cultural and language diversity of the country, and the project considers necessary to icentivate indigenous cinema with the aim of “promoting self-representation or the representation of reality and communicating messages from the perspective of the indigenous regions and population.
Newton Mori, a Peruvian historian and visual artist member of the Chirapaq indigenous organization, affirms that public perspective framed indigenous cinema in an anthropological documentary box, while in the last decades there’s been a transformation as communities are using the tool to present their own realities, denouncing injustices or reaffirming their identities.
“We have the cinematographic example of countries that went through revolutionary processes in which films were turned into a political tool for cohesion and construction of collective projects,” writes Mori.
Among Peru’s most recent and successful indigenous cinema is the heartbreaking film ‘Wiñaypacha,’ the story of two Aymara elders struggling to survive in a remote region of the Andes. The film, the first completely in the Aymara language, and selected by the 2018 Academy Awards, fostered reflection on memory and culture in times of discrimination.