Screened as part of NZIFF 2016
With up-close access to indigenous Peruvian activist Alberto Pizango, and a damning assemblage of news reports, this documentary provides a gripping account of years of struggle. Filmmakers Heidi Brandenburg Sierralta and Mathew Orzel lay out the overwhelming imbalance in power between those acting to conserve their natural environment and those determined to monetise it. They also draw on interviews with several of Pizango’s antagonists, notably a former Lima police officer who has come round to Pizango’s side. Third-party footage of a bloody skirmish between police and protesters provides pivotal evidence, as it records an incident that then-president Alan Garcia’s government spun into a public relations coup against the protesters. Police who died were granted massive state funerals, while Pizango was demonised as a murderer, conspiring to hold the nation to ransom. Public anger pulled back the government from some of the flagrant constitutional abuses Pizango had protested against, but he remained a wanted man, forced into exile. In the film’s present we see him return stoically to Peru to face the music, and hopefully resume the struggle.