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About the Film

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The film tells the story of a young indigenous Peruvian man who has lived his entire life, but for a few brief months, in a small farming village in the mountains above the Sacred Valley. Like everyone in his community, he has been raised as a farmer. And like many, he has been instilled with the belief that life in the city would be better than the life he leads.

When Feliciano was young, his father would tell him, “You are not going to be like me. You will go to the city, you will study, and you will become something more.” When Feliciano was sixteen, his father sent him to the city, where he worked and studied. Shortly after leaving his village, Feliciano’s mother came to him to tell him his father was sick. Five days later, his father died. Being the eldest son, Feliciano was forced to leave his school and return to his village to work his father’s fields and care for his younger siblings.

“Luck did not accompany me, and I lost my education.” The loss has stuck with Feliciano as he has grown and made a life for himself in his village. Now he has a young son of his own, and his desire is the same as his father’s. He will see his son study in the city, and become something more than he has become.

Framed by the seasons, the film chronicles a year in the young man’s life, from  planting to the harvest, and through a season of work as a porter on the Inca Trail. We see the processes, passed from father to son for generations, of planting crops, tending to them, and harvesting. We witness the transformation of the spectacular landscape from the browns and yellows of the dry season to the vivid greens of the rainy season and the harvest. And we witness the back-breaking work of the porters as they make their way through the mountains on the trail to Machu Picchu. We learn of Feliciano’s driving desire, and witness a year in its pursuit.

Interwoven with Feliciano’s story is the complex history of his people. In his often poetic native language of Quechua, Feliciano recounts the history of the Incas, the conquest by the Spanish, and the years of the haciendas.

The film paints a vivid picture of this man’s life, of the conflict between his love of the land and the work he has learned from his father, and the desire to see his son living what he sees as a better life in the city.

Technical Notes

The film was shot in southern Peru between September and November of 2007, and April and June of 2008.

The voice over, as well as the majority of the dialogue, is in Quechua, the language of the Incas, and the native language of the indigenous people of the mountains of southern Peru.

Traditional music from the area, largely played on the quena, a flute played throughout the Andes, provides the score.

The film was shot on a Panasonic DVX100a, upconverted to HD at GW Hannaway & Associates in Boulder, Colorado, and color corrected at Crash & Sues in Minneapolis.

The film was edited using Final Cut Pro and an Apple computer.

About the Director

Jason Burlage was raised in a small town in southeast Idaho. He studied film at Montana State University. Mi Chacra is his first feature documentary.

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