Knowing she would be documenting a first in the history of the pilgrimage of Qoyllur Rit’i, filmmaker, and Cusco native, Gabriela Martínez jumped at the challenge to direct Qoyllur Rit’i: A Woman’s Journey.
Martínez was approached for the project by American ethnomusicologist Holly Wissler, who had been living in Cusco for several years. Through her work as a tour guide in the area, Wissler was asked to participate in the pilgrimage as a sponsor, or mayordoma, of the Qhapac Qolla dance troupe. To be a sponsor in festivals throughout the Andean region implies a financial and spiritual commitment, as well as investing a year’s worth of time to prepare for the event.
This marked the first time a woman had been asked to be a sponsor in Qoyllur Rit’i, as well as the first time a foreigner would hold such a title.
The documentary, which was released in 1999, gives a rare glimpse of how a dance troupe prepares for and participates in Peru’s largest festival. Watch the film below.
Check out our chat with Martínez to learn more about the making of the documentary.
Cover photo: Marco Simola
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