“Yes, you feel the pressure because of the surname,” confesses Tito Catacora. “We are still going to make an effort and we are managing to get ahead alone.” Catacora has come to Lima to present “Pakucha”, the last film in which his late brother Óscar collaborated.today recognized for his monumental film “Wiñaypacha”, from 2017. Born in Acora, Puno, Tito (48) always worked in production with Óscar in the direction, but in “Pakucha” they changed roles.
The film, spoken in Aymara, is about a high Andean community in Puno at 4,000 meters above sea level that each year follows the animal fertility ritual called uywa ch’uwa in honor of the Pakucha, the spirit of the alpacas that lives in the mountains. Presented at the Lima Film Festival 2022the purpose of this documentary is to publicize this ritual, which is very important because the new litters of alpacas in charge of the Puno communities depend on it.
—The documentary does not say exactly where the events take place. Why?
—It is filmed in Puno, and it does suggest that it is in an Andean ecoregion, because the shepherds who engage in agricultural activity must be around 4,000 meters above sea level. As it is a ritual act, it is obviously basically located in that area.
—What does the uywa ch’uwa ritual involve?
—It is a fertility ritual that families usually perform every year. Generally, in the different communities these ritual acts are practiced from the months of November, December, January, February —more or less in that period of the year—. The Andean pastoral year does not have an exact date, a specific month, but it does oscillate between those months that I have mentioned. There are two phases. A first phase is when they cleanse illnesses, or it may be that suddenly the tutelary apus are not satisfied. Rather, the second phase occurs when they summon the spirit of the alpaca, in this case the Pakucha, the spirit of the alpaca, which is in the springs, they are in the ravines, the springs, to engender, so that it reincarnates again and that the fertility of the alpacas exists.
How did you get into history?
—Let’s see, I’m Aymara and I lived in rural areas. My father had cattle. As a child I herded cattle, alpacas, llamas. So, I always saw my father who did that kind of ritual acts. I was surprised, for example, when he celebrated and sprinkled the liquor on the ground, in space, and the cattle got drunk. I was aroused a certain curiosity, but I am a teacher and also a researcher. So, my curiosity is greater; that is, I want to find the very essence of that ritual act. The community is the community of Jatucachi, in the district of Pichacani, province of Puno.
Trailer for “Pakucha”
—The film does not follow specific protagonists, everything happens in a group, choral.
—It has another vision because we consider that the Andean world is not individualistic, but more collective. So, in that sense the artistic proposal has been raised.
– How long did the filming last?
—More or less approximately 15 days, but this can be extended with the preparations, and after the filming it is necessary to deliver the premises. In itself, the ritual act can last three or four days.
—Did we have to rebuild actions, act at some point? There are sequences that are almost difficult to achieve; Very wide and precise general shots of shepherds herding dozens of alpacas.
—You have to understand what a documentary is. For a three-day ritual it is practically edited in that sense; obviously we have to see the forms and modes. In the investigation, he asked the participants how they were going to move, then what the next act was and thus he constructed what type of shots he was going to make.
—In an environment like the high mountain, many things can go wrong, or there can be accidents, time plays against it, etc. What was the most difficult scene or moment to record?
—In this regard, I would say that the entire technical and production team was made up of people from the Puno region. So, they don’t have those difficulties to adapt to the climate. In this documentary, for me, there could have been the two most difficult scenes. One when the cattle, the qachi, enter the corral; but that is not just any corral, it is like a temple.
“A circle of stones.
—Exactly. That corralón is like a temple, they only enter it to perform ritual acts. Another shot that has also been difficult is when they bring the offering, they move to 11, 12 at night. We had to accompany; we all went at night.
—What references to documentary film did you have?
—There is a director from the United States named James Benning. His movies are called “13 lakes”, “10 skies”, I don’t know how many cigarettes (“20 cigarettes”, 2011). He has some long shots. Go figure. That seemed like an interesting thing to me; that is, “Pakucha” is inspired in part. We have taken it from those works, ah, because maybe I don’t like this conventional cinema that much.
—It is inevitable to talk about your brother Óscar. Do you feel the weight of the Catacora surname? When you put out a movie now, do you feel like you have to live up to his brother’s work?
—Personally, I think that it is a responsibility that I am assuming with this documentary. Next, I am also carrying out another work called “Yanahuara”. I still have to continue his legacy. It wouldn’t be fair to leave him abandoned. At that level we are working and not only myself, but rather I always say that these works that we do are with the participation of a whole team.
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