Willaq Pirqa, the first Quechua language film produced in Cusco
9 July 2019
Cinema is a very powerful medium, and one of the most effective in portraying cultural differences and social changes.
The recent Academy Award-winning Mexico-produced film “Roma” is just one example of how a film can illustrate and honor the Americas’ profound and ancient legacy of indigenous culture , and the often difficult process of adaptation of indigenous nations to changes brought about by the modern world.
The dignity and resiliency of indigenous people and their resistance to exploitation by the dominant European culture has been the topic of numerous films in the past years.
Now, from the beautiful Andean region of Cusco , Peru, comes the first film entirely produced with dialogue in the Quechua language (with Spanish subtitles), “Willaq Pirqa, My Town’s Movie Theater”, a compelling story of cultural discovery and social change in the Andean culture , through the medium of cinema.
A movie within a movie
In a plot that somewhat echoes the classic Italian film “Cinema Paradiso”, Willaq Pirqa tells the story of native Quechua town in the 1970s that discovers the magic of cinema when a movie theatre opens there.
For the townspeople, the fascination with films is tempered by the fact that the villagers are not Spanish speakers- they speak their native Quechua language.
This causes unrest, and they feel a need to better understand the films they are watching. In view of that, they recruit Sistu, a young boy from the village, to visit a larger town, Ollantaytambo, each week to watch a film being shown there, and to return to interpret the movie to his townspeople.
However, upon returning from Ollantaytambo one day, Sistu sees that the theatre’s projectors have departed from the town.
Undeterred, Sistu forms his own film crew, together with townspeople as actors, to tell stories in Quechua language to the town’s inhabitants.
An andean production
Willaq Pirqa was produced in the historic town of Maras, and most of the film’s principal actors are local residents, including talented young Victor Acurio, who played Sistu.
The film’s inaugural screening took place in the town’s square, with attendance of a large public from the local area.
The film’s director, César Gallindo, said, “This is an enriching experience because it shows a sector of the rural population in daily situations, with all their virtues, defects, emotions, feelings, illusions, values and their way of organizing their labor”.
Willaq Pirqa is an especially important and appropriate film, as it is being shown in the United Nations’ proclaimed International Year of Indigenous Languages.
The film conveys a sense of the cultural worth and importance of the Quechua language and other original indigenous languages. It is also a demonstration of Cusco’s cultural diversity , as the ancient center of the Inca Empire.
Although this new film may still be hard to find outside of Peru, do watch for it, and please do contact us to find out more about Cusco, Andean culture and adventure trips to Peru at: andeanlodges.com.