Films Southern than South

An approach to the ethnographic documentary production of the south of the South. Based on a selection that is not intended to be representative, we will be able to transport ourselves to the high peaks, the most arid desert, the world’s belly button (Te Pito o te Henua) and cities that lay on the brief terrace between the Andes and the Pacific.

The film “Nema Problema” will introduce us to South America from the eyes of Serbian refugees who arrived with the hope of finding peace and a place to live after the war in late nineties. The film follows them since their arrival, keeping track of the refugees as they dwell with their expectations and the real living conditions that are offered. Originally this film questioned the Chilean’s government housing policy quality. Today, as the path of migration has shifted, it may help to remember.

That frustrated adventure in a cold city will be in contrast with the colorful explosion of the other films. In these, musical and dancing expressions are a pretext to address some of the main topics of Latin-American ethnography: ethnogenesis, national identity, intangible cultural heritage and gender. “Riu” is particularly interesting in this sense. The Rapa Nui Island (formerly known as Easter Island) is the vessel of an isolated community that has managed to safeguard its culture through slavery raids of European sailors and the exploitation of twentieth century Chilean and British capitals. The film combines, in a simple story full of beautiful indigenous songs, traditional themes of the Rapanui ethnography (myths of origin, loss of language and culture, isolation, etc.) with current ones such as trans identity and ICH transmission.

The search for a national identity based on mestizo and popular cultural elements is perhaps one of the most important topics of Peruvian social sciences. “I still being” (Kachkaniraqmi) travels through a vast Andean geography, where masters and authorized voices of music sing in this choral and multi-situated essay.

One thousand kilometers south from Peru, in the arid desert of Atacama, “Quele Quele” gives us the possibility of experiencing the genesis of a syncretic cultural phenomenon. Mellado delivers a very personal approach that mixes Hollywood’s far west imaginary with the local search for an ancestral identity. This phenomenon, although particular, can have a universal narrative. Also, the film is capable of illustrating some characteristics of Andean syncretism as it combines local and foreign cultural elements to create something new that seems old.

We hope that these films will succeed in illustrating the importance of “cultural expressions” and crossing with fictional cinematographic languages in ethnographic documentary production in the region in constant search for new narratives that is so characteristic of Latin America. At least, this is an invitation to meet worlds and approaches that are not present in Belgrade very often.


Nema Problema (2001) 61 min. Director: Cristián Leighton, Susana Foxley. Surreal Films

Riu, lo que cuentan los cantos (2018) 71 min. Director: Pablo Berthelon

I still being (Kachkaniraqmi) (2013) 123 min. Director: Javier Corcuera. Quechua Films

Quele Quele (2019) 53 min. Director: Pablo Mellado