ABOUT THE FILM:
This is the story of Baltazar Ushca, the last ice merchant of Ecuador. Twice a week for the last 55 years, Baltazar has trekked over 10 km in the early morning hours up to the fossilized glaciers on Chimborazo—to an altitude of 16,000 feet. There, he hacks away at glacial ice with a pickaxe and breaks it into blocks, which he wraps in hay and loads onto his donkeys’ backs. He then hauls the ice down the mountain to store in a hole in the ground. On Saturdays, he sells the ice at the market for $2.50 a piece, to vendors who turn it into ice cream and fruit juices.
Baltazar harvesting ice on Chimborazo.
This is also the story of Baltazar’s brothers, Gregorio and Juan, who used to climb the mountain with Baltazar and harvest the ice to sell. Today, however, Gregorio sells factory-made ice cream, and Juan works in construction. Although both men dream of returning to Chimborazo and to the glaciers some day, Baltazar is now the last remaining ice merchant; when he dies, the tradition of harvesting glacial ice will be lost forever.
Gregorio sells ice cream in town.
Juan uncovers his old snow cone machine.
In the small indigenous town of Cuatro Esquinas, where the brothers live, change is happening rapidly. Homes used to be thatch; now they are concrete. Everyone used to speak Quichua; now kids speak only Spanish. Younger people are leaving for easier city lifestyles. What was once important is now an unnecessary burden. But Baltazar, who knows no other life, carries on, representing the enduring spirit of old-fashioned perseverance and pride.
This will be a short documentary intended towards international film festival release.
We are currently shooting in Ecuador and will wrap in June. We are working on building a solid post production team in New York. The funds will be used for post production efforts: editing, color, sound, and festival submissions.
Contributions would help this movie be the best that it can be. We want to show people a story that they've never seen before, but one that they can also learn from. The Ushca brothers, as well as the town of Cuatro Esquinas, have been exceedingly generous and welcoming, and we want to create a movie that they can be proud of!
- (30 days)