Ancestors Practices and Climate Change: Interview with Director

“After seeing the reality that a lot of indigenous communities live, it pushed us to have a compromise to produce this type of social cinema, where the community can see themselves and feel proud of wearing their traditional outfits and hear their language on a big screen”.

Diego Sarmiento, Director, 'Las Sembradoras de Vida' (Peru, 2019)

“Everything you ask her, she will give to you”.

– Eliana García

It is often heard that women are the most affected by the impact of climate change globally. Do you know the reason why this statement is given? According to statistics provided by the international organizations, 80% of the people who are displaced or affected by this natural phenomenon are women who are caregivers and food providers. 

The film Mothers of the Land directed by Diego and Alvaro Sarmiento, who are two brothers from HDPeru production, was released in 2019, in Peru. It develops the story of five women farmers from the Andes who fight to conserve their sowing affected by extreme climate changes by using traditional and modern methods. 

Both filmmakers from Quechua descent studied Media Production and Documentary Filmmaking. Thirteen years ago, they started producing after visiting their parents’ home located  in the center of Peru, where they realized that their roots were being threatened by transnational companies (mining) which was affecting the society, its economy, and environment.

HDPeru aims to produce topics about native people’s rights and the preservation of the environment in the Andes and Amazon in Peru.

With the help of technology, I was able to travel across the Atlantic Ocean and interview Diego. He was very relaxed, confident, and proudly talking about their work. 

“After seeing the reality that a lot of indigenous communities live, it pushed us to have a compromise to produce this type of  social cinema, where the  community can see themselves and feel proud of wearing their traditional outfits and hear their language on a big screen”. 

Actually, the Quechua language is being revalued in the country. At the university of Cusco it’s a mandatory course. “I think this is good since there is still a lot of discrimination that needs to be stopped” said, Diego. 

Mothers of the Land, which has a duration of 74 minutes, is their second feature production. It has been presented in several countries as well as at the  69 Berlin Film Festival. In addition, it also has won awards such as Best Documentary in the 25 Dreamspeakers Indigenous Film Festival in Canada, 2019. The film has been selected for Cinemaissí Latin American Film Festival in Finland.

Beside being presented at several film festivals, HDPeru’s goal is to distribute their documentaries in the communities, at schools, universities and others. It is giving back something to the community. 

During my conversation with Diego, he mentioned that the production of the documentary took four years since it was necessary to film from the sowing to the harvesting in separate parts. He also expressed that choosing the protagonist occurred two ways: knowing them from previous filming, for example, Sonia; or with the help of organizations that work with these women, for instance, the Potatoes Park.

The five protagonists Braulia Puma, Brizaida Sicus, Eliana García, Justa Quispe, and Sonia Mamani are from different areas. As a matter of fact, what they have in common are: 

-Believe that the Mother Land is woman; therefore, they practice rituals to give her thanks.

-Committed as hard-working who go daily to the field to check their sowing and apply their ancestral knowledge to combat plagues and extreme change of weather. For example, Brizaida’s potato plants have worms, so she applies ashes to combat them. 

Sonia mentioned that the lunar timing is not anymore precise like before. She remembered that her grandmother said: “when a lot of fishes appeared, it meant that  there would be a good harvest, and if there weren’t fishe it meant that a famine would come, but now you can’t know because there are never any fishes”.

Eliana who is an anthropologist combines her studies and her ancestral knowledge to guarantee a good corn harvest. She is devoted to collecting different types of seed because she likes to experiment even though it is a long process. The variety of corn also helps to have less plagues. 

The intertwined color of the women’s clothes, hat, and cloth they used as bags, plus the amazing scene of landscape, mountains, lakes, and valley mixed with the traditional music, make the movie flow smoothly. 

“We need to revalue the agriculture works, so if you have the opportunity to buy direct from the farmers do it. We are visitors of the land, not its owner”, manifested Diego. 

Shirlene Green Newball, Journalist-Producer, writer of Women Wheel blog.


Cinemaissí is committed to the true representation of indigenous communities, through indigenous-made film. You can watch the film throughout the festival 21.-25.10.2020

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