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Local Director Examines Indigenous Communities in Mi Chacra

Documentary Focuses on Vanishing Peruvian Culture

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A great idea can take you places. Case in point: Jason Burlage, director of the documentary Mi Chacra. Raised in Idaho, Burlage moved to Cusco, Peru--the city that's the gateway to the world famous ruins of Machu Picchu--in pursuit of a compelling story. According to his blog, he hoped to chronicle "the disappearing culture of indigenous communities" in the famous and sacred place. So, he picked up his camera, girlfriend and 9-year-old son, and set out to tell the story.

Mi Chacra, or "My Land," focuses on the new realities farmers and porters face--realities that clash with old ways of life. His subject is Feliciano, a villager who had gone to the city to attend school, only to be forced to return after his father's death. Feliciano's work in the village is hard: Not only does he farm to feed his family, he works as a porter, carrying heavy loads and guiding the way to Machu Picchu for tourists. Bound by the expectations of his family, Feliciano dreams of a better life for his son. Feliciano's narrative frames the larger story of the Inca people--their history, their struggles and what modern life means to them.

The film, released in late 2009, has received accolades from around the world, taking such honors as the grand prize at the Banff Mountain Film Festival in November. This Wednesday, Feb. 23, Burlage brings his story to Idaho with a screening at Boise Contemporary Theater.