Peruvian Minimalist Film ‘Powerful Chief’ Among Favorites in the Race for the Oscar
Los Angeles, CA (December 6, 2021) – The Peruvian Ministry of Culture recently announced that Henry Vallejo’s film Powerful Chief (Manco Cápac) is Peru’s official Oscar entry for Best International Feature Film at the 94th Academy Awards taking place on March 27, 2022 at the Dolby Theatre in Hollywood. The film has received several accolades and is among the favorites on the shortlist in the race for the Oscar, per Variety Magazine’s 2022 Oscars predictions.
Filmed in Spanish and Quechua in the southern city of Puno, Powerful Chief tells the story of Elisban (Jesus Luque), a young man who migrates from the countryside to the city of Puno in search of work only to find himself homeless and penniless in a city that seemingly ignores his plight with fierce indifference. Elisban survives by taking small, unstable jobs that lead to nowhere but despite the adversities, he perseveres and continues on his journey with his dignity intact.
Powerful Chief, Vallejo’s second feature film, is ten years in the making and much like the protagonist in the film, Vallejo’s story is one of perseverance and the will to win. “It’s a story that anyone can relate to, and the central theme is ultimately perseverance, just as was the case with the filming,” explains Vallejo, who had to overcome several obstacles that delayed production every step of the way. “In the end, the film aims to tell a simple, socially relevant, challenging story that pays tribute to the Incas.”
Vallejo hopes to nab the second Oscar nomination for Peru with his unfiltered, harsh but honest depiction of daily life in Puno, which highlights the challenges that immigrants face even within their own country. The minimalist film has little dialogue and relies on the sites and sounds of the city to provide the backdrop. Vallejo also uses long takes in nearly every scene, with the camera following the protagonist as he moves incessantly about the city.
“Powerful Chief is a beautiful and sharp representation, with a genuinely remarkable sociological analysis, of an Andean society struggling to fit into the modern world. Puno is a city full of traditions, international tourists and economic strength, that attracts a young man looking for a way to survive. Henry Vallejo, the director, shows us impartially but implicitly an in-depth view of this society and shows us how the main character refuses to give up but instead seeks to stand out in an honorable way.” stated Conrado Falco, Trade Commission of Peru in Los Angeles / PROMPERÚ.
According to Falco, with the development of PROMPERU´s strategy to promote the country as a film location through “Film in Peru” and with the support of the Ministry of Culture, which promotes the national audiovisual production in national and international markets, Peruvian film production has grown significantly in the past several years. “We are thrilled to know that many stories from our country are yet to be told and that several Hollywood productions are being filmed in Peru and that they can take advantage of the spectacular landscapes from the Pacific coast to the Andes, home to the city of Cusco and the magnificent Machu Picchu and the Amazon jungle which encompasses more than 50% of the Peruvian territory,” said Falco.Powerful Chief is a Pioneros Producciones production distributed by V&R Films. Rounding out the cast is Mario Velásquez, Yiliana Chong and Gaby Huaywa. The film has received several awards including the 24 Lima Film Festival 2020 (Best Actor Award), the Peruvian Association of Cinematographic Press APRECI 2020 (Best Peruvian Film, Best Actor and Best Screenplay), and has had a successful run at international festivals including the People of Color – International Exchange (New York), Latin America Film Festival Raices (Denmark), Al Este – European Film Festival (Switzerland), Global Migration Film Festival (Switzerland), La Plata Latin American Film Festival (Argentina), and 30 Festival Biarritz Amérique Latine (France).
Powerful Chief releases in theatres in Peru on December 9, 2021.