Cerro Rico Tierra Rica

(Cerro rico, tierra rica)
Juan Vallejo | Documentary

2012 | 87 minutes | Bolivia, Colombia, United States

The rituals of two mining communities are observed in this striking and unsparing portrait of life and work in Bolivia's altiplano. A strong denunciation of the hardships and alienation inherent in mining work while underscoring its impact on the native population.


The daily rituals of two mining communities are observed in this strikingly visual and unsparing portrait of life and work in Bolivia's altiplano, at an altitude of fourteen thousand feet. More than ten thousand miners still excavate the slopes and tunnels of the richest silver field in mining history, Cerro Rico (Rich Hill), an enormous conical mountain in the Andes that towers over the city of Potosí. The miners' lives offer a strong denunciation of the hardships and alienation inherent in industrial work inside the mines, underscoring the historical impact on the native population created by global demands for earth's wealth. Shot in iconic Potosí and Cerro Rico and, as a counterpart, in the Arctic-looking plains of Salar de Uyuni, where salt is extracted daily and where half of the world's lithium reserves remain untapped.


"Breathtaking." — Cineaste

"Juan Vallejo's work is quite an achievement of cultural identity." — Robert Bell, Exclaim!

"Viewers could appreciate different point of views while Vallejo discovers and learns more about the miners and their families." — Boston's Latino Daily El Planeta

"Engrossing, provocative filmmaking... A powerful, unsparing picture of life in one small part of the world.... Both breathtaking and troubling." — E. G. Anderson, CVVMagazine.com

Main credits

Vallejo, Juan (film director)
Vallejo, Juan (film producer)
Rackham, Robert Alan (film producer)

Other credits

Cinematography, Juan Vallejo, Robert Alan Rackham; editor, Juan Vallejo, Ji Yi Kim; music, Andres Subercaseaux.

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Bolivia International Film Festival - Pukañawi Audience Award, Best Feature Documentary
Havana Film Festival
Cine Las Americas International Film Festival
Independent Film Festival of Boston
North Carolina Latin American Film Festival
Planet in Focus, Toronto

DIRECTOR: Juan Vallejo

NATIONALITY: Bolivia, Colombia, United States

YEAR: 2012

GENRE: Documentary

LANGUAGE: Spanish; Quechua; Indigenous languages

COLOR / B&W: Color

GRADE LEVEL: High School, College, Adults



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