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Cinema 2022: 69 Peruvian films, a postponed cinematheque and the unequal duel of “Avatar” vs. Willaq Pirqa

An image somehow summarizes what cinema was in Peru in 2022: the billboard watching the the film from Cusco “Willaq Pirqa” against the colossal ‘blockbuster’ “Avatar: the path of water”. An unprecedented clash, abysmally uneven, paradoxical, and still exciting. Because the film in Quechua directed by César Galindo has managed to fill some theaters, even surpassing that of James Cameron. But it remains only in a handful of cinemas in Lima. Although its value is immense, the opportunities to show itself to more public are insufficient.

As the Cinencuentro portal indicates, this year 69 Peruvian feature films have been released –a figure that equals the record for 2021–, and 29 of them have done so on the commercial circuit. A figure above what the common viewer could imagine, since many of these films went unnoticed due to limited hours, little promotion, etc. How many saw or even found out that fictions such as “Autoerótica”, “Peso Gallo”, “LXI” and “Samichay”, or the documentaries “Vida férrea” or “Pakucha”, all valuable and interesting productions? ? Surely a minority. And this responds to the usual problems of our film scene.

Meanwhile, the big ‘Hollywood’ industry is the one that continued to monopolize the exhibition spaces: Marvel with “Black Panther: Wakanda Forever” and “Doctor Strange and the Multiverse of Madness”; the return of Tom Cruise and “Top Gun”; “Jurassic World: Dominion”, the aforementioned “Avatar”, and a new installment of the “Minions”. Did the Oscar set any standards? It is possible that at this point hardly anyone remembers which was the winning film, but surely it does have recorded Will Smith’s blow to Chris Rock. A more eloquent gesture about show culture than that, impossible.

The winner was “CODA”, by the way.

new winds

If something has changed for the better in the dynamics of Peruvian cinema in 2022, it is that, for example, the chance to see a movie in commercial theaters is not delayed as much as before. If until a few years ago the general route was its premiere at a film festival and, only after several years, its appearance on the commercial circuit, today that gap has been shortened. This has allowed films that could be seen in August at the Lima Film Festival –such as “Pakucha”, “Peso Gallo” or “Willaq Pirqa”–, have made the jump to the billboard a few months later. A point in favor, but that still has to be fine-tuned.

In fact, this breadth of national offer is what the film critic Gabriel Quispe highlights, consulted by Trade. “The best of Peruvian cinema in 2022 has been the reaffirmation of creative diversity, with disparate and talented works such as ‘Willaq Pirqa’ and ‘The heart of the moon’”, estimates the also author of the cinephile poems “48 ½”. In addition, Quispe highlights the return of face-to-face festivals –among which are those of Lima, Al Este, Transcinema, Lima Alterna, MUTA, FECIT, FENACI, etc.–, as well as the gradual reunion of the public with our cinema on commercial billboards, after a couple of years marked by the pandemic and confinement.

The almost unanimous appreciation for “Willaq Pirqa” –which has reached its fourth week of screening– seems to consolidate it as the best Peruvian film of the year. “The positive thing about 2022 is the premiere of two very good films, such as ‘Willaq Pirqa’ and ‘Mataindios’ –says the also critic Raúl Ortiz Mory–. I believe that both follow an important, powerful trail that is representative of a context that continues to be invisible to some sectors of the audience. As it happened before with ‘Retablo’ or ‘Wiñaypacha’, both represent a continuity in the visibility of problems that other filmmakers have not bothered to carry out”.

Urgent order

The great demand of the year (which comes from years and decades ago, actually) was the creation of a National Cinematheque, scandalously postponedto the point of leaving us behind within the region and the world, as one of the few countries that does not have an institution that preserves and rescues its audiovisual material.

The creation of the National Cinematheque is still the desire delayed by the government bureaucracy and the terminal political crisis that destabilizes the Ministry of Culture. And the fragile Peruvian audiovisual heritage continues to be lost, although little by little today it interests more people who are sensitized to preserve the audiovisual and national memory”, indicates Quispe Medina.

Ortiz Mory points in the same way to the convulsed and fragile government policy that, as in all cultural areas, ends up harming the cinema. “A true Film Law would also have to be implemented, with specific, specific, precise sections; however, since 2016 political instability is terrible, and that also has to do with the appointment of suitable officialsthat they follow a development policy that reaches the national cinematography, both at the level of production, exhibition, distribution, and that can further develop the entire sector”warns the critic.

a year in pictures

Looking at the panorama more broadly, we can say that 2022 was the year that took figures such as Jean-Luc Godard, Monica Vitti, Sidney Poitier, Heddy Honigmann, James Caan, Olivia Newton John and other great figures of cinema.

The new ranking of the best films in history made by the British magazine “Sight & Sound” was also highly debated. On the list, the Belgian film “Jeanne Dielman” (1975), directed by Chantal Akerman, was voted the most important of all time, leaving behind Hitchcock’s “Vertigo”, Welles’ “Citizen Kane” and “The Godfather”. Coppola’s. A rearrangement of the canon more than controversialbut that talks about how opinions and perspectives change according to the times.

What is the best thing that could be seen on the screen? Notable was the projection of “Memory” by Apichatpong Weerasethakul, who even visited our country to offer a master class in Lima and a workshop in the jungle. “Crimes from the Future” by Canadian David Cronenberg was a disturbing and refreshing appearance, which came hand in hand with Festival Unusual. “Moonage Daydream”, the documentary about David Bowie directed by Brett Morgen, brought the musical and lysergic share to the alternative circuit, with several dates at the CCPUCP, as did the British “Aftersun”, a moving and formidably filmed story between a father and her daughter on summer vacation.

All of the aforementioned had a premiere as part of film festivals, special screenings, or limited releases, which allows a healthy alternative to commercial billboards that –as we already said but it never hurts to influence the subject–, looks repetitive and covered by million-dollar productions. A valid and respectable entertainment offer, of course, but that ends up taking over and cannibalizing the spaces for different proposals.

The claim for the creation of a National Cinematheque, the acclaimed "Willaq Pirqa", and "Jeanne Dielman" named as the best film in history: three of the issues that marked the 2022 film agenda.

Source: Elcomercio

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