Across the Hummingbird Bridge

In the Peruvian Andes, a community of indigenous healers reckon with the effects of climate change on their agricultural and religious traditions.

  • Jeff Mertz
    Director / DP / Editor
  • Project Type:
    Documentary, Short
  • Runtime:
    18 minutes 23 seconds
  • Completion Date:
    June 1, 2019
  • Country of Origin:
    United States
  • Country of Filming:
  • Language:
    English, Quechua
  • Shooting Format:
  • Aspect Ratio:
  • Film Color:
  • First-time Filmmaker:
  • Student Project:
  • Close:Up Edinburgh Docufest
    United Kingdom
    October 9, 2019
    International Premiere
    Nominated: Best Short Documentary
  • New Hampshire Film Festival
    Portsmouth, NH
    United States
    October 17, 2019
    US Premiere
    Official Selection
  • Close:Up San Francisco
    San Francisco
    United States
    March 26, 2020
    WINNER: Best Short Documentary
Director Biography

Jeff Mertz is an award-winning independent multimedia producer with an insatiable appetite for making things. For commercial and creative projects alike, he aims to evoke and explore the junction of physical and emotional landscapes. His work and collaborations have been featured on international publications including Hyperallergic, Notion, Impose, Noisey, Eater, Buzzfeed, FilmShortage, and as Kickstarter and Indiewire Staff Picks.

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Director Statement

'Across the Hummingbird Bridge' was born from a place of deep anxiety regarding our everyday futures under the face of climate change. The title refers to the ‘hummingbird bridge’ described by anthropologist and paqo (healer) Americo Yabar as the bridge from the materialistic mode of Western thought to the metaphysical immediacy of the Andean tradition.

Thus, I came to these people, nestled in straw-built mountaintop huts, sparse villages and city slums, with a naive and romanticized expectation that their animism could heal the anxiety built from the failings of Western science and politics to provide hope in the face of unfathomable change. The paqos of the Andean tradition, however, are a practical, immediate people whose spiritual and agrarian lifestyle has gone largely unchanged since Incan times. They exist by the mean fruits of their own labor and wisdom, subsisting on donations from visiting tourists and government tithes, and are thus one of the most vulnerable cultures on the planet. The film reveals a plea from these people to be seen, heard, and believed in, to trust in the power of intention and in the ultimate resiliency of nature. I sought out to make a film consisting of worldly advice from people tied to the Earth on how to heal our collective relationship with her; the paqos gave me instead their own epitaph, a testimony to the power and fallibility of belief in and of itself.