“We will return and we will be millions,” promised Evo Morales in the middle of the night of Bolivian history, when the right wing took power with a coup, and both he and his vice president, Alvaro Garcia LineraThey had to go into exile with their lives at risk. Exactly one year later, against all rational odds and just as his dreams had dictatedthe Bolivian leader returned to his country, with the MAS once again in government after democratic elections.
we will be millions is the name of the film that started from the idea of telling that epic return, but ended up being a shocking fresco of the history of Bolivia, from the invasion to the unprecedented stage of the Morales government, with its radical changes.
conceived as a collective creation which adds a large number of professionals from the audiovisual world, directed by Diego Briata and Santiago Vivacquaoriginal music by León Gieco and Gustavo Santaolalla (with rapping by Miss Bolivia, and even by Evo Morales himself!), the film is produced by Grupo Octubre, together with the Brazilian Opera Mundi. It will be presented next Saturday, November 5 at the Mar del Plata Film Festival. Coincidentally, or perhaps not, the same day that the 17th anniversary of the “No to Alca”in which Evo Morales participated (and whose images appear in a section of the film).
“Today biopics, life stories in the cinema and series are very fashionable, and somehow this film borders on that genre. But it’s not a biopic, because the whole story of Evo is always told based on that political process”, warn the directors in dialogue with Page 12. “We were not interested in looking for details of his personal life, but we did investigate a lot about his political and trade union formation. And there we found a leader of ideas as simple as powerful. At each moment he finds an axis on which to stand, which challenges the majority; is someone who knows how to read the context and transmit ideas. It ends up being a film that talks about the value of unity, of how much a town can do when someone appears who puts those ideas in order and sets a course. How history can be changed”, they define.
“The filmmakers have gone through a very long, very intense and very rigorous on the research. We are proud and happy that the time has finally come to meet the public, and in such a prestigious setting as the Mar del Plata Festival,” he says. Victor Santa Maria, coordinator of the October group. “It is a film that narrates in a very impressive way, and with wonderful music, the deeds of the Bolivian people to recover democracy,” he observes.
The film adds revealing footage, both about the coup and the dramatic moments of Evo and García Linera’s departure into exile -in itself, a real movie apart from the Chimoré airport-, as well as about Evo’s youth, his trade union militancy and his construction politics. A beautiful photograph, a music that spreads rhythm, images of the epic caravan of the return and exclusive interviewswhich the filmmakers remember with an emotion that reaches tears.
Caravan and much more
It all started as the need to film a moment that was expected to be historic: the return of Evo Morales to Bolivia, exactly one year after he was forced into exile by the dictatorship of Jeanine Añez. That “reunion caravan” ended up being, effectively, epicever since it started with Alberto Fernandez saying goodbye to the Bolivian leader in La Quiaca. And from there, acts in different locations -including Orinoca, the small hometown of Evo, and the Salar de Uyuni, to highlight the strategic importance of lithium-, more than 300 kilometers traveled from the puna to the jungle and moving displays of affection from the Bolivian people throughout the entire journey. The end was also historic: a million people gathered at the Chimoré airport, from where Morales and Álvaro García Linera left with their lives at risk, with Luis Arce already elected president by the MAS. But the movie ended up telling that, and much more.
“We had the opportunity to board the Hércules with Evo that left El Palomar to Jujuy, our story began there, with Alberto Fernández saying goodbye, Evo crossing the border on his way back, even in the great act of Chimoré. It was going to be a kind of road movies tell that trip,” says Briata. “As we learned more about the story, we began to find that the whole story of Evo was epic and it was much more like the fantastic movies of great heroes who come out of a town and change history, than a story of political cinema. Both Evo and Alvaro build all the time very powerful symbolic moments, and we feed off of that in the film,” adds Vivacqua.
“When we meet with Paulo Soria, the screenwriter, we realized that we always had to go back a little further to recount each thing: the coup, Evo president, Evo trade union leader… Like an unlimited semiosis towards the past. We finally realized that that story it dated back to Spanish colonialism and extractivism. So we started thinking about it from there, as a story with an antagonist who had a thousand faces over the years, but that he was always the same, and with the same intentions”, completes Briata.
All the participants in the film are, in addition to outstanding professionals in cinema, photography, production and communication, popular militants. They accompanied Evo and García Linera in their Argentine exile, participating in the MAS campaign. Vivacqua is one of those who traveled to Bolivia in this framework, and unleashed the pandemic he ended up staying there for half a year, then returning several times. The film is, in some way, the result of this joint commitment to the process of recovering democracy in Bolivia; a deep connection between art and politics.
“There’s a lot love, a lot of conviction, and a lot of generosity from many colleagues who contributed a lot, in addition to the great production of Grupo Octubre. Alliances, embassies, Bolivian exiles in Argentina…”, reviews the producer Maria Eugenia Ferrer. “We went to filming in the month that the pandemic radically intensified, we left without knowing if we could return. If the caravan was epic, so were the production and realization“, smile.
“The film has a pedagogical function but not pedagogizing, the artistic is in the foreground”, he reflects Fernanda Ruiz, Production coordinator. “And that is based on the sensitivity of the entire team that made the film, and also on the persevering research and reading that Santiago and Paulo Soria did, fundamentally, that is why it has such a solid architecture,” she says. And she highlights the collective dimension that is evident in the number of names that appear on the technical sheet. “It would not have been possible without the collective. I think that in this sense we pay homage to the people whose story we tell, who would not have recovered democracy without that force, “he concludes.
The filmmakers reconstruct passages of the trip, such as when the caravan had to deviate through the cuts that the Bolivian right-wing had deployed on the traced route, and Evo’s truck was literally lost. “At one point the road stopped being a road and became a footprint. Then it stopped being a footprint and became a dry riverbed,” recalls Briata. And along with that, two things that shocked him. “The first is that even though we were lost and were not following an official path, people came out to receive EvoEntire communities were seen on the sides of the road. And it was impossible to communicate, because there was not even a cell phone signal. How did they know, how were they there?”, she wonders. A peasant woman gives an answer in the film: “We went out because we all went out to welcome brother Evo. We went out because we have to go out.”
The other impression that is saved occurred when at one point in the track the truck stopped, already low on fuel and having realized that perhaps they were getting nowhere. “The drivers got out to discuss what to do, and at that moment of bewilderment Evo appears and begins to draw on the floor with a stone. A probably imaginary map, because there was no cartographic reference. They all stare and he says: we’re here, and we have to go here, taking this way. Everything was arranged there. I’ll never know if that map was real, but it was. catalyst of hope in the moment of uncertainty. We needed a leader to tell us what to do, and it was Evo, and he convinced us. We left, and we arrived!”He laughs remembering the anecdote.
“There is something that we were discovering in Evo in each step that we took backwards in the historical journey of the movie. And that is to be constant in his proposals and coherent in his line of thought,” reflects Ruiz. “We were always finding a coherent line that was inviting us to see how far we got in the political process in Boliva.”
There are in the film, in various ways, marks that refer to the Andean culture, to its mythical and ancestral dimension. “Already when we arrived in Jujuy we began to perceive an enormous gratitude with Evo. But when we crossed to Villazón, and we found ourselves with that tremendous and carnivalesque welcome, it was shocking, it was an explosion. It was the ancestral put into action: Evo set foot in Bolivia and they gave him an ancestral cure, in a small tent. The entire town of Villazón was gathered around a tent, doing a ceremony, getting Evo out of all his ghosts and his evils, so that he can come back strengthened. For us it was a sudden understanding that ancestral knowledge has absolutely everything to do with the political process that Evo led,” they review.
simple and extraordinary
The film crew returned to Bolivia several times after that caravan, both to do interviews and film places and landscapes, as well as to carry out the journalistic investigation that took months of intense work and a particular deployment. Ferrer remembers the interview with Morales in his birthplace in Orinoca. “In that adobe house, in the middle of nowhere and in the most hostile climate, we had Evo, who went especially because he was enthusiastic about the project, saying that when he was a boy his family decided to move from there because they had nothing to eat, and as president he nationalized hydrocarbons. It was realizing that we were really before a simple man who does extraordinary things. Getting in touch with those origins was very revealing, and we showed that in the film.”