Private Project

Cholita Libre: If you don't fight, you've already lost

What THEY want, THEY get. If THEY don’t do it, nobody does it. THEY can lose but that just means, that they will continue fighting. With their colourful, glittering skirts THEY are like flowers on the tarmac. And of course, THEY are stronger than all the men in the world. THEY are Cholitas and they are wrestlers. THEY fight on the stage to show us that this world can change.

Their style of fighting, the Lucha Libre (the Latin-American way of Wrestling) is a mix of sport, theatre, athletics and choreography. Cholitas are the offspring of the Quechua or Aymara natives of Bolivia. Their hair is braided into two long plaits. They wear a bowler hat, a spectacular shawl and a skirt, which swings with its three layers of petticoats.

We get to know Rosita the Heartbreaker, Carmen Rosa the Champion, Yolanda the Passionate and Claudina the Condemned.

These four Cholitas are fighting at eye level with the men in the ring. They do not spare themselves; they support, improve and correct each other. They do not train “against each other”, but “with each other”. What they want, they get. If not in reality, then on stage – because the wrestle is just like real life – if you do not fight to stay in it, you have already lost.

  • Jana Richter
  • Rike Holtz
  • Jana Richter
  • Rike Holtz
  • Jana Richter
  • Rosita the Heartbreaker
    Key Cast
  • Carmen Rosa the Champion
    Key Cast
  • Yolanda the Passionate
    Key Cast
  • Claudina the Condemned
    Key Cast
  • Alexander Heinze
  • Ignacio Fernandez Bollo
  • Claudio Jolowicz
  • Project Title (Original Language):
    Cholita Libre: El que no lucha, ya ha perdido
  • Project Type:
  • Runtime:
    1 hour 10 minutes
  • Completion Date:
    February 10, 2010
  • Country of Origin:
  • Country of Filming:
    Bolivia, Plurinational State of
  • Language:
  • Shooting Format:
  • Aspect Ratio:
  • Film Color:
  • First-time Filmmaker:
  • Student Project:
  • Festival international du film ethnographique du Quebec (FIFEQ) 2010, Canada

    Committee Prize
  • Mujeres en Foco 2010, Buenos Aires, Argentina

    Prize of the Jury
  • Festival de cine y video 2010, Mar de las Pampas, Argentina
  • Latin American Film Festival 2010 (LAFF), Utrecht, The Netherlands
  • Transilvania International Film Festival 2010 (TIFF), Cluj, Romania
  • „White Nights“ 2010, Int. Film Festival of Festivals, St. Petersburg, Russia
  • Festival de Lima, 14. Encuentro Latinoamericano de Cine, Peru, Muestra en Digital 2010
  • Romania International Film Festival (Ro-IFF) 2010, Arad, Romania
  • 12th International Documentary Encounters, Bogota, Kolumbien
  • Festival Internacional de Cine de Cali 2010, Kolumbien
  • XIII. Festival ICARO, Guatemala
  • 4th Festival of Visual ASPEKTY 2010, Torun, Poland
  • Festlatino Buenos Aires 2010, Argentina
  • Festival do Filme Etnográfico do Recife, Brazil
  • Atlantidoc 2010, 4. Festival Internacional de Cine documental del Uruguay, Montevideo, Uruguay
  • 4. Samsung Women's international Film Festival 2011, Chennai, India
  • “Cronograf” Int. Film Festival of Moldova 2011 “Cronograf at museum”, Chisinau, Moldova
  • Beeld voor Beeld 2011, Bogota, Colombia
  • Nepal Cine Symposium 2011, Kathmandu, Nepal
  • Lichter Filmtage 2012 Frankfurt/Rhein-Main, Germany
  • Etnofilm 2012, Rovinj, Croatia

    Prize for Best Film by non-anthropologists/ethnologists
  • Days of Ethnographic Film 2012, Ljubljana, Slovenia
  • Ethnocineca 2012, Ethnographic and Documentary Filmfest, Vienna, Austria
  • International Festival of Ethnological Film 2012, Belgrade, Serbia
  • 6th Moscow International Festival of Visual Anthropology „Mediating Camera“, 2012, Moscow, Russia

    Special Prize of the Festival
  • 5th Frederick Film Festival 2013, Frederick, USA
Director Biography - Jana Richter, Rike Holtz

born in 1978 in Magdeburg, Germany
2009 graduated from Film and Television Department at the University of Arts in Kassel (Prof. Yana Drouz, Prof. David Safarian)
2010 founded RICHTER PRODUCTION and realized films in Argentina, Bolivia, Cuba, Mongolia, Germany
Member of NUR film group

Filmography (Documentaries):

2015 TRACES OF WAR, 55 min, Nagorno Karabakh
2014 RISING, 7.20 min, Germany
2012 THE GREATNESS OF MAN, 30 min, Cuba
2010 CHOLITA LIBRE: If you don't fight, you've already lost, 70 min, Bolivia
2009 GAUCHOS: If you don't get on, you won't fall off, 85 min, Argentina

Add Director Biography
Director Statement

Women Wrestling in Bolivia sounds for most people like an exotic absurdity. But Cholita Wrestling is a reality and important for the people in Bolivia. And also for those of us living in Europe, Asia or North America. Because we can learn a lot from the Bolivian Cholitas, who give their hearts to this sport.

The Bolivian wrestlers are uncompromising, curious, passionate and always prepared to stretch their body to the limit, to overcome obstacles or to question social norms, in order to achieve their final goal. Not just in the ring, but also in their daily life.

For three and a half months, we lived, breathed and filmed the life of the Cholitas. We peeled potatoes together in Carmen Rosa’s 2x2m kitchen, washed the dishes and delivered the food. We accompanied the children to school and trained together with the Cholitas during their wrestling practice; every Saturday they would put up and take down the ring just for this purpose. In this way, we were able to experience for ourselves how much physical strength, will power and trust in your opponent that wrestling demands. The Cholitas welcomed us into their lives, openly and whole-heartedly sharing their life stories and daily routines. But we also learned a lot from the men, who did not fit into the cliché of a South American macho. They support their women, peel potatoes, take care of the children, put up and take down the wrestling ring, and train together with them, on an equal level.

The Bolivian Women Wrestlers have decided to take control of their own lives. They are the proof that you can reach the seemingly impossible, if you want it. Through Lucha Libre, they have learned and have taught us, that it is important to fight together and not against each other. They have experienced that if you are good, you will be criticised; if you are strong, others will look for your weakness; if you are united, some will search for the wedge to part you. What these women show us is that these are not reasons to give up, but to go on.

We would never have made this film without the advice and support of our mentors, Yana Drouz and David Safarian, whose help we could count on, even whilst far away in the Bolivian Andes. Also the direct or in mind led conversations with the other filmmakers of the NUR Film Group helped this film to become what it is now.