Paris-based Luxbox, one of Europe’s most prominent sales agents and an occasional producer of Spanish-language art house titles, has snagged worldwide rights to Peru’s “Through Rocks and Clouds” (“Raiz”) ahead of its world premiere at Berlinale’s Generation Kplus sidebar.
Set against stunning vistas of a snowcapped Andes mountain range, the film revolves around Feliciano, an eight-year-old alpaca herder and avid soccer fan who is giddy about Peru’s increasing chances at qualifying for the World Cup.
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But a mining company’s exploits threatens his mountaintop village’s way of life, tarnishing his dreams.
“At Luxbox, we are always looking for Latin-American talents, so we are extremely happy to represent this Peruvian pearl directed by Franco Garcia Becerra,” said Luxbox CEO Fiorella Moretti, adding: “The film invites us to see the world through the gaze of a young alpaca herder full of dreams.”
García Becerra hails from Cusco and is best known for his debut feature “Vientos del sur.” He shot “Raiz” in October 2022 in the Quispicanchis province with its dialogue entirely in the Indigenous language of Quechua. Its cast is made up of Quechua-speaking actors, many from the same region where the film was shot.
“The desire to see Peru in the World Cup for the first time in 36 years was a shared hope, uniting generations and offering a temporary escape from our difficulties. However, it unveiled a stark contrast between collective joy and the diverse realities within our country,” Garcia Becerra commented. “Presenting the story from Feliciano’s viewpoint underscores the importance of preserving children’s innocence and their ties to their roots, amidst the looming threats.”
Feliciano is played by non-pro Alberth Merma who was selected after a wide-ranging audition process and a series of workshops. The parents are portrayed by Nely Huayta and Richard Taipe.
“Seeing our film on the big screen and at such an important festival after five years of hard work, fills us with joy and pride. At times like these, when our country is experiencing political turmoil and a difficult social situation, we need to ensure our culture stays strong and keeps growing. Being here demonstrates that we have a film culture to share and stories that need to be told,” said its producers Diego Sarmiento (Desfase Films), Jorge Constantino (Mestizo Studios), Annemarie Gunkel (Luna Roja Relatos Audiovisuales) and Franco García (Wayquicha Cine).
Chile’s Juan Francisco González of Tierra en Trance Films, co-produced. The Chilean and Peruvian producers retain the rights to their respective territories.
Gunkel and Alicia Quispe co-wrote the screenplay, which they say was inspired by seeing what has become the very first scene in the film: young herders in the Andes trying to listen to a game through a transistor radio.
“At that moment, among our own similar childhood memories, life in the countryside, friendship, and companionship with animals, the protagonists were born: Feliciano, Ronaldo, and Rambo. Along with our love for [mountain] Apu Ausangate and a long relationship with nearby communities, the concept came to life,” they said.
“Combining Annemarie’s perspective as a migrant to this region and Alicia’s knowledge of growing up in the Andes, we worked to script a film that exposes the variety of difficulties faced by indigenous communities, triggered by socio-environmental conflicts,” they added.
As is the trajectory for most Latin American films, “Raíz” received some local state backing, in this case from the Ministry of Culture of Peru – DAFO 2021 and actively participated in various labs and workshops during its development, including Nuevas Miradas (Cuba), Sanfic (Chile), Cine del Mañana (Peru), Spcine (Colombia), and Cine en las Aldeas (Colombia).
The “Raíz” team, supported by the Embassy of Peru in Germany and the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, will be present at the event. Young Merma, will also be on hand to represent the film in Berlin.
The Berlinale runs over Feb. 15 -25.
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