Cry of the Andes: 
A History of the Project

In 2005, filmmakers Carmen Henriquez and Denis Paquette received a PowerPoint presentation authored by a group of concerned mining Engineers in Chile. The presentation spoke of their concerns for Canadian Barrick Gold’s proposed ‘Pascua Lama’ mine in the north of Chile and how Chile’s mineral rich resources were being unfavourably exploited by foreign transnational’s. In 2004, Carmen and Denis’ documentary Twenty Years of Silence looked at the legacy of Chile’s twenty year military dictatorship and how U.S. economist Milton Freidman’s radical free market capitalism invited virtually unbridled foreign investment in a ‘resources for sale’ economy. With mining already wedging deep divisions in Chilean public opinion, Pascua Lama provided the filmmakers a platform on which to build the story – a three year journey and social examination that culminates in the feature length documentary Cry of the Andes.

With Toronto based Barrick Gold Corporation driving development of Pascua Lama, the filmmakers first pitched the project as a one hour television documentary to the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation. However, since much of the story is set among northern Chile’s Diaguita Huascoaltino people, the filmmakers also brought the project to the attention of Canada’s Aboriginal People’s Television Network (APTN). Although APTN had never licensed a project outside of Canada, they were quick to contract a one hour version of the story in 2007, triggering the resulting Canadian financed budget of $347,000. Through the course of 2008 the filmmakers spent a combined three and a half months on location in Chile spanning four separate trips from their homes in Vancouver. Production of the documentary also took the pair to Toronto for Barrick’s Annual General Meeting.

After editing much of 2009, the filmmakers released the one hour documentary The Road to Pascua Lama in September last year. This one hour documentary cut was catered to first window broadcaster APTN and focused specifically on the fight of the Diaguita Huascoaltinos and their leader, Chief Sergio Compusano. However, the depth of their footage allowed the filmmakers to tell a broader and more compelling story about mining versus agriculture, and the clash of corporate values against social values. Without the restrictions of a TV hour, Carmen and Denis continued on with postproduction into 2010 to realize their full vision in this feature length documentary. In it, the audience is transported to the heart of Chile’s Huasco Valley to observe as a wave of globalization as it crashes down on the last farming valley in the north of Chile. The Huasco River, the only source of water in this arid part of the world, will either continue to sustain a 500 year tradition of agriculture, or be manipulated by corporations and government to serve the needs of Pascua Lama. This David and Goliath fight between rural farmers and the corporate elite ends in the one election that will ultimately determine the fate of this valley and the true price of gold.

Cry of the Andes is produced and directed by Carmen Henriquez and Denis Paquette, filmmaking partners and co-principals of the Vancouver based, RealWorld Films Inc. – a documentary and multimedia producer on issues of economic, environmental and social justice. In 2010, the filmmakers are also releasing the seven part documentary series Closer To Home that explores the future of Aboriginal housing, communities, and rights across Canada.

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