When I first started developing ESQUÌ I wanted to show how colonization has adapted itself to the contemporary world and strengthened its roots to keep inequality alive. It started as an observational documentary about the life of a chairlift operator in the most famous ski centre in Latin America, the city of Bariloche, where I was born. Passively capturing the elite of the Argentinian high society practicing ski and contrasting it with the daily struggle of the workers from the ski centre was not enough to describe this complex world of relationships. For me, witnessing this extreme visual polarization since I was a child made me want to explore more deeply the layers of relationships between the people and the mysticism of the landscape, transcending a merely dualistic perception between rich and poor, bad and good, black and white or whatever other outdated binary system might exist.
The territory of Patagonia was populated by the Mapuche culture until they were killed by the Argentinian government in 1880 in a political process called The Conquest of the Desert. The idea of this genocide was to reduce and civilize the „savages” in order to acquire lands for European immigrants. Bariloche was founded in its wake in 1902 and established as a symbol of victory; the domestication of wild Patagonia was underway. Urbanization, commerce and the repressive apparatus changed the rules of the game. This new way of life was imposed on the Indigenous cultures. The survivors of the Mapuche families began to settle on the margins of the city. The practice of their nomadism had been altered and they had to adapt to the rules of the new economic system. Small ranches were built around the urban area creating what we know today as the El Alto, a big neighbourhood conglomerate.
The tragic history of the territory reached its peak during the government of Mauricio Macri; the repression and persecution of Mapuches escalated to unprecedented levels in the context of a democratic government.
In 1930 Otto Meiling, a German alpinist, arrived in the city. When observing the landscape, he realised it resembled his native country and decided to start making skis as a regional industry. Years later, Bariloche was established as the most important tourist destination in Argentina. By the ‘80s Cerro Catedral (the big mountain surrounding the city) was the largest ski resort in Latin America. For a tourist city to function large-scale infrastructure is needed, and for that infrastructure to be profitable cheap labour is required. It is not a coincidence that most of the workers from the ski centre were born and raised in the neighbourhoods of El Alto and furthermore, that the young people in these neighbourhoods do not know the Cerro Catedral or have ever practiced skiing. The tragic history of the territory reached its peak during the government of Mauricio Macri; the repression and persecution of Mapuches escalated to unprecedented levels in the context of a democratic government. In 2017, the gendarmerie killed Santiago Maldonado and Rafael Nahuel, both participants in various demonstrations fighting for the repatriation of Mapuche lands.
It was pertinent to demonstrate the violence of the territory through a visual and sound proposal which did not generate a behavioural discourse, much less a journalistic analysis of the state of affairs from Bariloche culture. Representing this violence through the aesthetics of film is something I’ve been doing in other projects too, mixing narratives to create possible worlds. A world where fiction and documentary are an inseparable thing, a world that exists when the performance of filmmaking interferes in the quotidianity of the people being represented. A world where the young generations from El Alto can practice skiing, a world full of legends with fantastic creatures and psychedelic music. We found the sensation of reality, making evident our role during the shooting, this is not about observational filming, the cinema we are making is about meeting people and inviting them to participate in a collaborative process for a their community which is struggling hard to heal the wounds of the most perverse economic system.