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A father and master of a 300-year-old bridge weaving tradition struggles to maintain his culture as his daughter tries to escape it.
A father and master of a 300-year-old bridge weaving tradition struggles to maintain his culture as his daughter tries to escape it.
152 backers pledged $19,027 to help bring this project to life.

About

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$19,027

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Photo credit: Isaiah Brookshire; Design: Jon Irvine

This is a film about legacy: the legacy of ancient cultures threatened by change and the darker legacy of a patriarchal society and the women who suffer under it. We've taken our time telling this story, because it isn't an easy story to weave. Cultural preservation and women's rights merge in a complex examination of a culture that is both threatened by change and eager for it.

What We Need:

Through Kickstarter you provided us with $21000 at the beginning of this endeavor to help make this documentary possible four years ago. We used those funds for camera equipment (camera, lenses, sound devices), moving a family of five to Peru, production costs plus living expenses for the first six months of filming. Since then we received a grant of $10,000 from the Graham foundation in order to help us continue shooting in Peru. The reality is, we have invested over $100,000 of our own time, money, and talents into this project.

After five years of shooting and editing, we are nearly finished with our feature-length documentary, The Bridge Master's Daughter (previously titled The Last Bridge Master). We will use the funds received from this campaign for finishing services. This includes sound mixing, color correction, music licensing, design, and other finishing costs. 

We are very thankful for our community and you can be assured that your donations will be used responsibly and appropriately. We've had some very gracious people support us so far and we'd love to bring you into that community. 

The Story:

In the Peruvian highlands, a father and master of a 300-year-old bridge weaving tradition struggles to maintain his culture as his daughter tries to escape it.

Two weeks before the start of 9th grade, Victoriano’s daughter disappears. His emotional search for her, from the sweeping landscape of the Andean highlands to the noisy traffic of the city is interwoven with the reality of the family’s legacy. After generations of Arisapana men weaving the only remaining Incan footbridge, Victoriano’s sons have followed the call of the city and left the farm life behind. Now his only daughter, prohibited from the male-only weaving process, has left him as well. The search for Ruth Laurita covers remote village roads, steep mountain ridges and taxi rides through busy city streets. Slowly, the clues reveal that she has run away with her boyfriend.  Yet her journey towards self-empowerment becomes mired in the cycle of a patriarchal oppression. Meanwhile, Victoriano’s own quest to safeguard the ancient tradition of his people against the threats of globalization gains worldwide attention, but as his daughter’s story slowly reveals itself, a darker societal pattern comes to light. 


Cultural preservation and women's rights merge in a complex examination of a culture that is both threatened by change and eager for it.

This family's struggle with relationships and identity resonates universally, reaching far beyond Latino or indigenous culture. Audiences will identify  with the difficult choices faced by Victoriano, Ruth Laurita and her brothers as they navigate the nuances of clashing cultures. 

Victoriano and Ruth Laurita on the farm
Victoriano and Ruth Laurita on the farm

The Background:

Elisa, our DP, first went to Peru in search of the bridge master in 2012. Once she found him on his farm (which wasn't easy), we knew that we had a story that needed to be told.

Elisa's first visit to the bridge with Victoriano in 2012.
Elisa's first visit to the bridge with Victoriano in 2012.

In the spring of 2013, we moved our family of five to the Peruvian highlands. We settled in the ancient city of Cusco, the former capital city of the Incan Empire. While Matthew worked in a coffee shop and cared for the three children, sending them off to school everyday, Elisa was often out in the remote village of Huinchiri, shooting with Victoriano and his daughter on their farm. The Arisapanas welcomed Elisa , offering her a spare hut to camp in, sharing their food and eventually calling her family. The incredible access Elisa was granted is tangible in the intimacy that comes through vividly in the film. We lived there in Peru, capturing their story for over a year before coming back to the States.

Elisa filming Victoriano in the village
Elisa filming Victoriano in the village

 

Matthew living life with the kids in Cusco
Matthew living life with the kids in Cusco

 

 

Mateo and Graciela at the Queswachaka
Mateo and Graciela at the Queswachaka

 

 

Mateo saying goodbye to his best friends at school
Mateo saying goodbye to his best friends at school

 

Rosali in Huinchiri
Rosali in Huinchiri

 

Graciela and Mateo at Machu Picchu
Graciela and Mateo at Machu Picchu

Since being back, Elisa has returned to Peru, continuing to capture the evolving story of the bridge master's family. Over the course of three years of shooting, the documentary has become quite a bit different than the one we had originally set out to tell. Initially, we wanted to portray a straightforward story of cultural preservation in the face of globalization, but what actually transpired is much more complicated. 

After shooting for three years and editing for over 2 years in Columbus, OH, we are now very thankful to be in the later stage of post-production. We've locked picture and are very close to being ready to show this story to the world. 

Co-Director's Note:

It’s not easy to track down the bridge master of the only remaining Incan footbridge with a minuscule budget, unwieldy filming equipment and no knowledge of the Quechua language. Especially with a seven-month-old strapped to your back. I guess that’s why I did it. Growing up in rural Peru predisposed me to seek out uncomfortable adventure. Also, there is really no better way to break down barriers with women of other cultures than to hold your babies together.

co-director and mother of three
co-director and mother of three

My baby is almost five years old now. She learned to speak in the Andes Mountains, where we lived while filming The Bridge Master’s Daughter.  Raising my kids in my home country, even for a short time, brought me such overwhelming joy. I don’t believe I will ever be able to fully unpack my own identity as a white, educated female raised in poverty-stricken Peru. The past few years of entering into life with the Arisapana family have added to that an intimate understanding of the place of women in indigenous society. For, although I began by filming Victoriano, I ended by filming his daughter.

Ruth Laurita had a strong voice, at first. She looked into the camera and told me, clearly, what she wanted from life. And what she wouldn't accept. But as time passed, that story slowly lost power in her head and heart. And other voices took over, telling her what she wanted and what she should accept. Stories matter.

When I hold a camera, I want to capture voices like hers. I want them to rise above the others shouting them down and to soar across the divides between us. At Noonday Films, we’ve shared the voices of refugees in Canada, guerrilla gardeners in downtown Vancouver, children with HIV/AIDS in Honduras, orphans in Rwanda, elderly American activists, and members of a Jewish bowling league in Ohio. All woven from the same fabric of life. 
That is what stories do for our world. They humanize us and bind us together. Much as reserved Quechua women crack open in smiles when they hold my children, audiences from around the world crack open a bit when they see a story told well. 

This is what moves me to do what I do. That, and my irrational attraction to uncomfortable adventure. 

Additional information:

To learn more about the history and ancient architecture of the bridge, please watch this short video we produced for the Smithsonian. The video is currently on display at the National Museum of the American Indian:

 Movie Poster:

Rewards 5-8 include a 24x36 movie poster:

"The Bridge Master's Daughter" artwork by Jon Irvine.
"The Bridge Master's Daughter" artwork by Jon Irvine.

 Textiles from 'Threads of Peru':

Rewards 6-8 include an authentic Andean hand bag or scarf from 'Threads of Peru'. Threads of Peru works with Peruvian women artisans to create markets for fair trade, hand-woven, sustainable fashion & textiles made from organic alpaca fiber:

30 cm x 30 cm alpaca hand bags valued at $119
30 cm x 30 cm alpaca hand bags valued at $119

 

20 cm x 180 cm baby alpaca scarves valued at $139
20 cm x 180 cm baby alpaca scarves valued at $139

 You can also visit the 'Threads of Peru' website here.

Risks and challenges

Since we've completed all filming and editing, the risk for you should be minimal. We just need the final push to help us finish post-production. We guarantee that your donations will be used responsibly and that this film will be finished if we meet our campaign goal.

There have been many challenges for us as a two person production crew. From moving our family of five across continents, to often self-funding the project, to language barriers and structuring a very complex narrative, to just managing life over the past five years with a family of five, it has been a very real challenge. But this is a story that we believe in, and with your help, we are ready to see it birthed.

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    6. Textiles from 'Threads of Peru'

    Threads of Peru works with Peruvian women artisans to create markets for fair trade, hand-woven, sustainable fashion & textiles made from organic alpaca fiber. You will receive either a hand bag or a scarf (valued at over $120 each). Your choice (scroll to bottom of page for pics of the textiles). PLUS EVERYTHING ABOVE.

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    7. Peruvian Catered Dinner

    You will receive a ticket for 2 to a catered Peruvian dinner in Columbus, OH with the Directors (travel not included). PLUS EVERYTHING ABOVE.

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    8. Private Screening in your City

    The directors will come to a private screening in your city and take part in a Q&A (travel not included). We are basically yours for the day. PLUS EVERYTHING ABOVE.

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Funding period

- (30 days)