Private Project

Hugo Blanco, Deep River

Portrait in a diptych of Hugo Blanco, the "Peruvian Che Guevara”, a legendary Trotskyist guerrillero and famous peasant leader of the sixties, who preferred to deconstruct his leadership and to encourage self-government becoming an anonymous activist: Hugo Indio.

Starting with a journey to the forgotten jungle village where Hugo Blanco’s fight and fame began, the film director looks for the traces of the young black-bearded man with a gun on his shoulder and raised fist shouting "Land or Death!" and finds the traces of the indigenous peasant movement.

In the second part - in the aftermath of the Peruvian Internal Armed Conflict - she meets the tireless Hugo Blanco, her father’s revolutionary hero, in person. He is now a white-bearded indigenous and environmental activist: Hugo Indio.

How and why did the inspiring hero come to decide to withdraw from his position of leadership?
The film is a diptych divided by a hiatus of silence and mourning for the sixty thousand indigenous people whose blood flowed in rivers when a generation’s dream turned into a nightmare: the dream of the armed revolution.

  • Malena Martinez Cabrera
  • Malena Martinez Cabrera
  • Hugo Blanco Galdos
    Key Cast
  • Gustavo Schiaffino, Malena Martínez, Carlos Sánchez
    Key Cast
  • Omar Mustafá, Guido Deniro
    Key Cast
  • Malena Martínez C., Alexandra Wedenig
    Key Cast
  • Project Title (Original Language):
    Hugo Blanco, Río Profundo
  • Project Type:
    Documentary, Feature
  • Genres:
    Portrait, history, indigenous people, politics, revolution
  • Runtime:
    1 hour 48 minutes 20 seconds
  • Completion Date:
    March 1, 2019
  • Production Budget:
    100 EUR
  • Country of Origin:
  • Country of Filming:
  • Language:
    Quechua, Spanish
  • Shooting Format:
  • Aspect Ratio:
  • Film Color:
  • First-time Filmmaker:
  • Student Project:
  • One World International Human Rights Documentary Film Festival.
    Czech Republic
    March 12, 2019
    World Premiere
    International competition
  • Festival Internacional de Cine Documental de Uruguay Atlantidoc
    December 8, 2019
    Best international documentary 2019
  • 20. imagineNATIVE Film + Visual Arts Festival
    North American Premiere
    Official Selection
  • Cinélatino. 31es Rencontres de Toulouse, 2019
    March 24, 2019
    French premiere
    Decouvert documentaire
  • Festival de Cine de Lima, 2019
    August 13, 2019
    Americas Premiere
    Hecho en el Perú competitive selection
  • Beyond Borders
    August 30, 2019
    Greek Premiere
    Official Selection
  • FIDBA Festival Internacional de Documentales de Buenos Aires
    Buenos Aires
    September 6, 2019
    Latinamerican Competition
  • 5. Semana del Cine. Universidad de Lima
    November 6, 2019
    Official Selection
  • Festival Corriente de No-Ficción
    November 23, 2019
    Official Selection
  • This Human World. International Human Rights Film Festival
    December 5, 2019
    Austrian Premiere
    Austrian Competition
  • Festival Nacional de Cine de Huánuco
    Best national feature documentary
Distribution Information
  • Malena Martínez
Director Biography - Malena Martinez Cabrera

Peruvian filmmaker, photographer and cultural journalist based in Vienna, Austria, since 2000. Master in Creative Documentary (University Pompeu Fabra, Barcelona, 2007). Artistic Photography (Schule Friedl Kubelka, Vienna, 2014). Mag. Romanic Philology (University of Vienna, 2006). Bach. Literature and Linguistics (Universidad Católica, Peru, 1999). Mentoring program with Ruth Beckermann (FC Gloria, Vienna, 2015). ARCHIDOC alumna (La Fémis, 2015). Music studies (Conservatorio Nacional, Lima).

FILMOGRAPHY (selection)

El juramento de Mándor 5' 2019
Hugo Blanco, Deep River 108’ 2019
Arcane 1’14’’ 2017
Cinco trotskistas y Hugo Blanco 6’13’’ 2017
Diálogos que son monólogos 2’ 2016
Archetype 1’15'' 2015
Hugo Blanco y el periódico Lucha Indígena 15’ 2014
Felipe, come back 67' 2009
Ramiro en Viena (ORF Shorts on Screen, special mention) 10' 2002

Add Director Biography
Director Statement

An intense epoch of internal war in Peru spanned my childhood and youth. The terrorist violence of the Maoists of the Shining Path was replicated by the brutal military repression. In their crossfire stood tens of thousands of indigenous peasants, the most forgotten and marginalized ones in the country. People that our racism had already faded out before the war.

The trauma left in the Peruvian population for two decades (1980–2000) led many to identify now the faintest socialist impulse as a veiled communist or terrorist threat. For my generation ‚revolution’ is an ambiguous word. My generation is trying to process what happened.

After my extensive research in diverse visual archives in Peru, which depict Hugo Blanco in a sensationalist way and at the same time do not record the indigenous fights as part of the official history, I understood that my documentary film should show what is happening with the memory of the Peruvian Indigenous and Peasant struggles: it is fading out.

The Agrarian Reform, the biggest social catalyst of modern Peru is, for instance, only recounted beginning with the official law created in 1969 during the military government. But Indigenous fights are still labeled as subversive acts. Indigenous peoples are, century after century, erroneously interpreted as suspects and aggressors or in a passive political role or as victims. Indigenous people are still "the other", the field of projection of the countries’ own fears. My film tries to approach the perspective of the Indigenous peasant movement.

Probably my biggest challenge was not to give up telling a counter-history - “bursting history against its grain” (W. Benjamin, 1995), - despite the expectation and the advice of telling the traditional hero-story about such a charismatic leader. My character himself still works in deconstructing the imagery of messianic guerrilla fighters and advocates for self-government by the people. He says there is no need for leaders. He seeks to put in the light the past and the present epic of Indian people, who were once overshadowed by him and by the light of the revolutionary imagery not just in Peru but also in the World. As for me, making a film rather ‚in the spirit‘ than ‘about’ Hugo Blanco, means to activate the memory of those forgotten collective indigenous fights. I think it is necessary all over the planet to re-take knowledge of those facts facing the fact that in Latin America rural social fighters and nature guardians are being murdered and are easily criminalized relating them to communist threats.

I work with subliminal sound and images subtly touching national taboos. I’m afraid that my country won’t find its path to the so-much-longed-for reconciliation and it won’t heal the deep wounds of our historical memory until we don’t dare to cross the traumatic waters and shadows seeded in our collective unconsciousness.