Many fans of Mitch Teplitsky’s Soy Andina, his 2007 documentary on Peruvian dance culture, will recognize the protagonist of his latest film, Return to the Andes. Nelida Silva, one of the dancers of that earlier doc takes center stage yet again. Only this time the co-founder of the New York City folk dance group “Ballet Folklorico Peru” is seen leaving her artistic aspirations behind and pursuing a much more ambitious prospect: becoming mayor of a small Andean community in her native Peru. An entrepreneur who eventually moved back to her home country after two decades in the U.S., Silva made a name for herself helping women from rural communities.
Return to the Andes joins the likes of Councilwoman and Knock Down the House as it paints a portrait of the seemingly insurmountable obstacles women face when entering the political fray. Scored with Andean music and giving audiences a look at Nelida’s campaign, Teplitsky’s documentary is also a portrait of a community that’s been left behind. “There’s no education,” a woman says. “We don’t have running water,” another adds. This is what compels Nelida to leave her NGO behind and pursue a mayoral bid that she knows will be an uphill battle given Peru’s male-dominated political process. Can she become the first woman to win, running on a platform of sustainable development and anti-corruption?
Take a look at the trailer for the doc below, which includes as much singing and dancing as it does campaign speechifying at rallies.
Return to the Andes is playing at film festivals in the U.S.