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The documentary “Chasing Glaciers: Cordillera Blanca” is an evocative documentary that delves into the impact of climate change on the Andean glaciers of Peru. Directed by Mark Gregory and produced by Kumbre Media, the documentary is the second part of a trilogy and has gained international recognition after being a finalist at the British Columbia Environmental Film Festival (BCEFF) 2022 and recently released for free publicly and uploaded to YouTube.

The documentary takes viewers on a journey through the iconic landscapes of the Andes, showcasing the stunning snow-capped mountains and turquoise lagoons of the Cordillera Blanca in the Ancash province of Peru.

© Mark Gregory / 2021.

© Mark Gregory / 2021.

The protagonist and narrator of the film is Juan Carlos ‘Cake’ Chae Fernandez, a young Peruvian artist who has explored, together with Mark, the issue of the climate crisis that has affected different areas of Peru and the resultant water shortage impacting the surrounding communities that belong to the glacial areas. Cake begins his adventure in an area that contains more than 60% of all Peru’s glaciers, Áncash, which they have already lost 40% of their mass and that is synchronized with several studies that predict a total disappearance of the glaciers by the year 2100.

Through powerful testimonies, the 28-minute documentary shows different perspectives of the various groups involved or impacted by the problems of water scarcity in the Parón lagoon in the Cruz de Mayo community, including the mayor of Caraz, the regional government, and the communities of Huaraz and Cruz de Mayo.

© Mark Gregory / 2021.

As well as testimonies and inherited experiences, Cake also comes across endless negligence and irregularities from private economic interests, corruption on the part of the Áncash authorities, imminent risks for the community due to landslides and the area’s history of large floods in the past, the insufficient intervention of government agents, and a strange phenomenon where the local environment is becoming contaminated.

© Mark Gregory / 2021.

In this second installment of the Chasing Glaciers Perú trilogy, we can see both a cinematographic and plot evolution of Kumbre Media’s documentary compared to the first, “Misión Huaytapallana”. We see in this second chapter how the protagonist nourishes the story from the perspective of not only the authorities that administer the region but also the locals who are being affected by the water supply on a daily basis. Making a judgment on the difference of opinions between the speakers is up to the viewer, but the findings and consequences in Áncash are evident and damning.

The clear feeling of the devastated community not being heard combined with the corrupted and forgotten priorities of the regional government, despite official studies and estimates by experts who analyze the glaciers in the area, raise the big question of why there is no urgency to take decisions and actions to mitigate these consequences. That is why the documentary raises serious hypotheses of conflicts of interest regarding the well-being of the communities and ecosystems of the Cordillera Blanca.

© Mark Gregory / 2021.

Among the most important aspects that I can highlight from the documentary is the fascinating effort of some of the residents to filter the available water to make it suitable for their own consumption and for their livestock. Despite being impoverished and decimated, these people embrace understanding and knowledge of their habitat to continue their resistance in the place they call home. This is the beginning of a beastly crusade in which resources, education, and state intervention are urgently needed by those who make decisions on behalf of the many people and who have not yet experienced firsthand the consequences of their decisions.

“Cordillera Blanca” offers a unique and important perspective on the urgent issue of climate change and is a must-see for those interested in environmental documentaries, the Andean population, and also all those who want to understand the fundamental role that local governments play in climate issues. 

Special thanks to Mark Gregory who provided us with exclusive images of the documentary production process by Kumbre Media.

You can see the full documentary at the following link.