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The Soy Andina Blog

Here’s my favorite feedback

Well, maybe "favorite" isn't the best word...we got smart, thoughtful feedback from many folks, both in Peru and the USA. Thank you all. But I keep referring back to Clive Giboire's comments because 1. he summarized well what a lot of people said 2. He reminds me to Just Finish Already, Damn it! It's good enough. He's funny, too.

By the way Clive lives in Lima, but imports lovely Peruvian jewelry to the USA. He will be in town Nov 20 through Dec 10. Write him if interested: delicadesa AT

Una Peruana en Argentina

Mas y mas correos y comentarios llegan de todos partes del mundo -- otro ejemplo:

Pues yo soy una peruana que por problemas economicos llego aqui argentina a vivir desde muy pequeña con sus padres gracias a Dios, y estando en mi pais jamas vi un baile jamas una cancion, y alos 14 años estando en este pais, por medio de una emisora escuche de un casting de bailarines para bailar folklor peruano, yo bailaba pero otras disciplinas, hasta que llegue y me encontre con un grupo de jovenes peruanos haciendo algo tan lindo por nuestro Peru......¨hacian patria fuera de nuestra patria.¨

More comments and links: from Minnesota, LA, NYC, Australia, New Zealand

"Great clip. Loved it. Hope to see the movie for sale one day."
- Neal, from Salsa Video Reviews, New Zealand

"I'm fascinated by the blog. I'm a chef in Australia, about to do a Peruvian-themed dinner party for a Peruvian friend here. The dinner is a trial run for my friend's dream - to open a Peruvian restaurant. We wanted to run the video on large screen during desert and coffee....Cheers from down under!"
- Maritzah, Australia

From South American Journal:
"On the eve of a trip to Peru with my daughter, in which she'll be introduced to the strange and beautiful country her grandmother came from, I've been thinking about identity. And it's no surprise that for many of us sons and daughters of immigrants, identity is a cloudy issue. Where do I belong?.... all that to introduce a documentary that takes on the identity question head on. It's called "Soy Andina"....
Don Ball Carbajal, Minnesota

From Peru Food:
"A few days back, I received an e-mail from Mitch Teplitsky, who told me that he had listed Peru Food as one of his favorite blogs about Peru. I was beyond flattered. Ironically, I had been visiting his website regularly, waiting to find out when Soy Andina will finally be released - many people are eagerly waiting for distribution, myself included....
- Alejandro, Los Angeles

This promises to be an exciting film--lots of colour, movement, scenic contrasts and most of all, cultural connections. What more could one want in a documentary?
- Diana Bryant, photographer, New York

Soy Andina inspires Nashville bluegrass singer/composer

Lovely email from acclaimed singer/composer Judith Edelman:

Hi Mitch,

I don’t know whether you’ll remember me, but we met at Sanctuary for Yoga a while ago in Nashville. You told me about your film Soy Andina and I told you a little about my music.

I just wanted you to know that Soy Andina looks so beautiful, I can’t wait to see it! Really moving and lovely and exciting.  And that’s just the trailer!  I hope it’s progressing very, very well.

I’ve been busy with various projects, documentary music and other things. I’m working on a travel show about two women who hit a crossroads and hit the (global) road...we hope it will be real, funny and moving. You can imagine how Soy Andina rung my bell!

Again, good luck on the film - I really did love what I saw.

Recent reactions to the Soy Andina newsletter and website/blog

More and more people are connecting to this website and project, from around the world. I've been blown away by their passion. Their words help keep my passion alive, which I've come to realize is the most important ingredient one can have for making a film, raising funds, starting a business. Samples:

I took a look through your web site. What a story and project! You've clearly devoted enormous amounts of love and care to this epic undertaking and seem to have assembled quite a team to bring it to fruition. Once the documentary is finished, I'll announce it in our newsletter.
- Jim Kane, Culture Explorers, Philadelphia

I am a Peruvian dancer from The Juilliard School. I love your website and sincerely wish I had known about your project earlier, as dance and Peruvian culture are my two greatest passions. Currently, I am facilitating my own project called Proyecto Peru, taking 8 american dancers on a cultural exchange this summer to Peru...
- Amelia Uzategui Bonilla, The Julliard School/Lincoln Center

I enjoy the Soy Andina e-news. The last issue was a hoot!
- Holly Peterson, World Learning, Vermont

My name is Jacob and I live in Sweden but was born in Cuzco. When I was one year old, I was adopted by my Swedish family. Here we have a group for Peruvians that have been adopted and live in southern Sweden. A few months back I found your homepage and told the group. They are waiting for the movie! With this letter I wanted you to know that you have people around the globe who follow you, and read your newsletter. Best wishes!
- Jacob Dalby, Sweden

I love the way you keep us in the loop and always with such passion. You are an inspiration as I struggle through my own uphill challenges as a fellow filmmaker.
- Begonya Plaza, New York

I was so delighted to find your weblog and getting to know your extraordinary project! Your story is very inspiring, especially for me since I am a Peruvian fellow who has been living in Ireland for the last nine years. Now I am not only hoping that my wife (Italian) and my two beautiful Irish-born boys could someday know about your story through the film, but also we could all together enjoy “feeling the need for dancing” our beautiful Peruvian dances. With your film, you seem to have redefined the meaning of dancing, taking it far beyond conventional and fashionable terms.
- Augustin, Ireland

Lovely! Your energy is most inspiring.
- Doris Cramer, Americas Society, New York

The Soy Andina Mission

By now many of you know that our two heroines met through the Internet — Cynthia was searching for a place to learn Peruvian dance and found our website, where she read about Nelida's story. That was 2-1/2 years ago. This week I received the following letters from a Patterson woman named Celia. Will history repeat itself?

I loved these letters because they speak beautifully to the movie's capacity for connecting people and making a difference. This isn't just a fundraising cliche or a someday/maybe vision, it's been happening since we started production. Cynthia's story is obviously the most visible but there are countless others, in the USA, Peru and elsewhere. And we haven't even finished the movie. One of the reasons I started the blog was to create a space to preserve and share at least some of these stories, like Cecilia's:

Will we Need a New Name for the Movie?

Is "Soy Andina" really the best name for the movie? I've been mulling that for at least a year. I'd like your thoughts.

When we started the movie it focused on one person's story — Nelida's. I asked her in an early interview how she identified herself. She answered "Soy Andina" ("I am Andina"), referring to the Andes mountain region and its distinct culture.

Eso es! We had ourselves a title.

Then we met Cynthia. And of course the whole movie changed. Now it's about two characters — and Cynthia's story has really emerged as the main one.

So do we still call it "Soy Andina" when our main character identifies herself as Peruvian-Puerto-Rican-American-New Yorker?

Being devoured to the clean-picked bone…

I was invited to participate in an ayahuasca healing session in Lima organized by a trusted psychologist. I’m intrigued. They say it can help break through internal worries and obstacles. My source of internal anxiety remains fundraising. Could ingesting a hallucinogenic Amazonian plant help raise funds?

Cut through the unconscious beliefs that limit my ability to ask for money?

OK I’m being slightly cheeky here but then again...I start to do some research on the net. And find this description from a new user:

“You think you’re dying, being devoured to the clean-picked bone by a school of rainbow piranhas, submerged in the hell-realms suffering brutal tortures and repeated dismemberment”

Hmm, perhaps I will stick with more traditional methods like direct mail after all....

But I do pay attention to synchronicity. And it so happens I’m doing this research at South American Explorers Club, and sitting across from me is a guy leafing through a copy of a book on ayahuasca. His name is Eric, a musician from the USA traveling in Peru. A soft-spoken, thoughtful nice guy. We strike up a conversation and I give him the Soy Andina website. Couple of days he emails me this:

“What a wonderful gift to the world!  I have a deep love and respect for traditional music and dance.  Projects like Soy Andina reach deep into the wellspring of indigenous culture that dissolves boundaries and connects us all.  Nothing brings people together quite like music and dance.  It´s food for the soul! “

Hmm, that’s about the best anyone’s ever put it. Eric gives me permission to use this quote in an eNewsletter. Reactions like this re-infuse my enthusiasm for the film and for the fundraising. No kidding.

Comentarios de la presentación en Lima

De Doris, una Llamellina que se fue anoche...

Finalmente pude llegar a la presentacion de los videos. Y mire el video "esperando milagros" y otra "quiero volver."

Fue interesante porque la comestarista Gisela Canepa, se refirio a Soyandina como "mas sofisticado y promete mucho" esto porque participan dos protagonistas..... y bueno tambien estuvo interesante el conversatorio en tanto se hablo de migracion, identidad...

Lo de el primer video, no llegue a verlo, y el de Ulla, fueron catalogados como mas de colectivo. Y los de soyandina y "quiero volver" como mas biografico....

En mi comentario, pues la de Ulla es interesante, es mas significativo cuando ella comenta que el solo echo de ver el video. Es decir es mas rico cuando se entra en discusion y analisis que el impacto solo del video.

Y el de quiero volver, pues es mas simplista, es la historia de una chica que con argumentos de reencuentro, se dan los reencuentros pero no hay una reflexion, una esencia muy profunda. Es un chica de ciudad de Lima, quien tiene recuerdos especificos de personas, de comida... sirve mucho para analizar el desencuentro que tiene.

Pienso que me ayudo mucho para ir viendo esta cuestion de la identidad, como un proceso permanente y sobre la inmigracion, la adaptacion activa y tantos puntos, las fiestas culturales....... y las opiniones de Gisela son interesantes, tienes que conectarte con ella.

Pienso que soyandina tiene mayor impacto fuera, en Peru la gente tambien hay migraciones, pero no hay todavia un tiempo, espacio para analizarlo y reflexionarlo por los mismos inmigrantes, sino esto es asunto de academicos, investigadores.

Peruvians in Chicago weigh in…

I love getting comments like this. Reminds me why it matters, and helps me keep going.

I just recently learned about Soy Andina and I have been inspired and impressed by the wonderful film clips and photography available on this site. No doubt that the final film will be amazing. Thank you for taking the subject of Peruvian transnational immigration and depicting it with such great respect and beauty.

Here in Chicago, and even throughout the Midwest, there are few Peruvians. Even fewer children of Peruvians keeping the traditions. That is the reason why my aunt and I began
Peru Profundo. As Peruvian Independence day approaches in July 28, we are also preparing for our celebrations.

Again, thank you. Here in Chicago we look forward to the completion of your film! Know that you have support, encouragement and a connection with us!

- Katherine Bardales, Chicago IL

From Sydney, Australia

Below, excerpts of emails from Angelli Meza in Sydney Australia. We met online a couple of weeks ago via the expat list and have continued a conversation that's a variation of so many others - people connecting around this project, often via the Internet:

I went to the website from work today. I read a bit more from the site...I had no idea there were so many Peruvians in the USA. For me 270,000 is a LOT of people. Are you thinking of getting your film to Australia? I know we have a very small Latino population, but you never know.

I think I can relate to Nelie in your story so well. I love so much about Peru but I was raised in Australia and it is just so different here. Here in Australia, it is so much better for women in terms of rights and freedoms (apart from the better standard of living). And I think your movie would touch my heart. Also, because it is so remote here in Oz that I even find
it hard to believe there are migrant Peruvians in other parts of the globe (the Peruvian community in Sydney is tiny) who feel like I do - I don't know what to call it by I call myself bicultural and incredibly lucky to be so.

If I can relate to Nelida's story, my sister would relate to it even more. She has returned to Peru more times than I have, one time spent a whole year there with her daughter. She really saw the good and the disappointments, and in Australia she now works as a Coordinator of Cultural Arts - helping different community groups (be they ethnic or whatever) organise their festivals, exhibitions or whatever artistic event. Prior to that, many years ago, she used to help organise probably Sydney' s only Latin American Peña. She may have even heard about your movie as she would know relevant people in the artistic community of Sydney.

It would be nice to meet up in Lima...I think you and Tony have something in common - .peruvian girls (ha ha). Seriously, you have given me a bit of hope that Tony may be able to embrace Peru and its traditions in the same way that you have managed to do it through your association with Nelida. This will be Tony's 1st visit and I admit I am a bit nervous about how he will react and whether or not he will like it.

I love and value Peruvian music. I have never considered it lower class. In fact if I could dance the Marinera Limeña, I would be thrilled (and my mother would probably burst into tears). And jarana to me has always implied a party, a good time. Well those are my roots anyway.

Are you South American in part? I ask because I am intrigued as to why you chose to make such a movie? Do you also have roots in Peru?

Cuidate, Angelli

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Cynthia Paniagua (New York)

Ballet Folklorico Peru (Paterson

Peru Profundo (Chicago)


Turn Right at Machu Picchu

The White Rock

American Chica

Faces of Celebration: Photographs of Peru

Shaping Society through Dance

The Guinea Pig: Healing, Food, and Ritual in the Andes


John Cohen

Danzak (Gabriela Yepes)

Cooking up Dreams (Guarango)


Fertur Travel Peru

Lima Tours

South American Explorers - Peru


NEWS (in English)

Peruvian Times


Mayu Hand-knit Alpaca

BarSol Pisco