Interview with Filmmaker Teo Belton (CUIDANTSIQMI: Love and Care for the Land)

“CUIDANTSIQMI: Love and Care for the Land” was the winner of BEST CINEMATOGRAPHY at the June 2022 DOCUMENTARY Film Festival.

1. What motivated you to make this film?

The issue of climate change is affecting many people in the Andes, their agriculture, their physical and mental health. Usually we always talk about the Antarctic deglaciation, and very little about the glaciers in the Andes, which are also considered as gods (Apus) for the natives. I remember a long time ago someone from that region told me that the day there is no more snow in the mountains, it will be the death of the Apu, and that means the end for us. A detail that shocked me a lot is that when the glacier melted, it released a mineral that polluted the river and the valley. Who knows what other catastrophes, which we are not always aware of, there will be due to these changes.

2. From the idea to the finished product, how long did it take for you to make this film?

We prepared the project to be able to pitch in a competition organized by the Wellcome Foundation, which deals with environmental issues. We managed to win and get a small amount of funding that allowed us to shoot in the region of Huaraz, Peru.

The shooting lasted 2 weeks. The translation from Quechua, the editing, the colorization will have been a total of one month of work, but not all at once, but spread over several months. I think that from the time we made the pitch until the final touches to the short film, it will have been a full year.

3. How would you describe your film in two words!?

That’s a difficult question. From my point of view, maybe it’s an honest and human film, in a way. I have tried to create a reflection on how these people of the Andes connect with nature, work to take care of it and respect it.

4. What was the biggest obstacle you faced in completing this film?

When we went to film the ritual to call the Rain, at the beginning of the film, the lake we wanted to go to was more than 5500 meters above sea level. It could only be reached on hiking and the walk took all day. We could not get there, it was extremely exhausting and difficult. It was as if the mountain itself was rejecting us. We had to go down and go to another lake the next day. On the other hand, although we had a translator from Quechua to Spanish, it was difficult to try to understand all the concepts and ideas that they wanted to transmit. It took us a long time to arrive at a translation that was respectful and as close as possible to what the people were telling us.

5. What were your initial reactions when watching the audience talking about your film in the feedback video?

It was very emotional, I had tears in my eyes. Really, to hear people you don’t know comment and share their feelings about a film you’ve made is always a unique and beautiful experience for a director.

Watch the Audience Feedback Video:

6. When did you realize that you wanted to make films?

Since I was a child I used to draw a lot of comics. I always wanted to tell stories. When I got to college, I decided to study communications because at first I wanted to go to Bellas Artes. When we started doing filming workshops, I was fascinated to be able to tell my stories through the screen. That’s when I decided I wanted to be a film director for the rest of my life.

7. What film have you seen the most in your life?

In fiction, Interstellar, for some reason it always makes me very emotional. In documentary, El Hermanito, hijo de Pachita, about a spiritual healer in Mexico.

8. What other elements of the festival experience can we and other festivals implement to satisfy you and help you further your filmmaking career?

Honestly, I have loved the festival and the feedback from the audience. I think that’s wonderful. But for example, it would be amazing if there could be talks between the directors and the audience, even virtually. That way we could share even more or debate about the works and the cinema.

9. You submitted to the festival via FilmFreeway. How has your experiences been working on the festival platform site?

Filmfreeway is a great platform, I think it gives you a lot of accessibility and good communication with the festivals. I have also used it for my previous short films. So far my experience has been excellent.

10. What is your favorite meal?

Tacos al pastor.

11. What is next for you? A new film?

Yes, I will be shooting a new short fiction film at the end of the year.

On the other hand, I’m developing a fiction feature film project and another documentary feature film project.
However, I am still looking for financing, which is always very difficult.

By matthewtoffolo

Filmmaker and sports fan. CEO of the WILDsound Film and Writing Festival www.wildsound.ca

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