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Thanks for a great screening. It was a wonderful close to the festival. The film is life affirming, entertaining and beautiful to watch. You succeeded in telling an authentic story from an honest point of view that is not only respectful of Peruvian culture but is imbued in its spirit. Hard thing to manage when you are not from the culture. Many people told me they were surprised to learn you are not Peruvian. You have still some successful screenings ahead of you with this film....As Catholics would say -- "bendito tu eres entre todas las mujeres," Mitch! That means something like "blessed art thou amongst all the women" (it's from the Bible). Congratulations!
- Marcela Goglio, Curator
Latinbeat, Film Society of Lincoln Center

Quite wonderful. The film had passion that was unescapable. It felt very much connected to the dance culture. Thank you. I would like to show it to my folk dance class for obvious reasons. You captured the flavor of the culture. The two stories of the women and the way they intertwined was interesting, easy to follow, and touching.
- Jana Feinman, director of Dance Program
Hunter College

What an exquisite have captured the heart of a story which speaks to any of us who have "left home." The dancing and music uplift and invite. My life is richer for this brief, yet powerful and lasting connection with the spirit of Peru. Thank you, Mitch, Nelida, Cynthia, and all the awesome folks who participated in this project.
- Claire Mandeville

Ver la película Soy Andina fue una experiencia única para mi. Como le dije a Mitch cuando le agradecí por sus esfuerzos al hacer este documental, es la película que esperé toda mi vida. Fue lindo conocerte y espero poder vernos pronto. No veo las horas que ya salga en DVD para comprarlo y ver el documental muchas veces más.
- Cecilia



Hello All:

I believe that everyone in the anti-war movement, all progressive movements, in fact, needs to support a new documentary that I just saw recently. It’s called “Soy Andina” ("I am Andean"). It features Nélida Silva, an indigenous native of Perú, and Cynthia Paniagua, a native of NY whose mother is Peruvian and father is Puerto Rican. Nélida is from a mountainous indigenous region called Llamellín which is far from the Peruvian capital of Lima.

In this wonderful documentary, Cynthia decides to go to Perú to learn Peruvian folkloric dancing and wins a Fullbright Scholarship to study in Perú but, prior to doing this, she goes to the website of “Soy Andina” from when this documentary was first being started and saw Nélida dancing. Nélida, who is one of the founders of Ballet Folklórico Perú (Peruvian Folkloric Dance) in Paterson, NJ, becomes Cynthia’s mentor, friend and confidant.

In one scene there is a military parade celebrating Peruvian independence and Cynthia questions if this militaristic style parade is the only way they have to celebrate Peruvian independence. Then she ends up joining in the dancing of some indigenous Peruvians who are also celebrating, but without the military garb.

At one point, Cynthia gets disgusted with the way she’s treated in Lima, never being fully accepted in spite of her commitment and, in spite of being of part-Peruvian ancestry. She writes to Nélida to complain about this and Nélida tells her that she understands because when she is in Lima, she is treated as the Indian mountain woman ("la serrana").

Nélida then advises Cynthia to visit other parts of Perú, outside of Lima, to learn native dances from the indigenous peoples of Perú and the Afro Peruvians. Cynthia takes Nélida’s advice and finds greater acceptance by the native indigenous peoples and the Afro Peruvians than in Lima.

I took as the overall theme if this wonderful documentary respect and reverence for the authochthonous (Yes, that is a word!), or indigenous, culture. Surrounded by a world of “fast-food,” overly commercialized culture, “Soy Andina” has a positive message of respect for all peoples and their cultures. It uses dance as the medium, but the message is very powerful.

I do not know when or where it will be showing intheaters near everyone to whom I’ve written but I do know that it is supposed to be in California soon. Please look for it in your area and take and/or encourage others to join you. This is the type of film that progressives need to support. I believe that progressives will identify very much with both Cynthia and Nélida.

Pass the word: “Soy Andina” is worth seeing! It is not only an important documentary, but a necessary one as well.

Dave Schraeger

    –  (10/05  at  01:43 PM)

For Dave Schraeger:

This is the first comment that exactly describes the underlying causes of our divisions.

It felt like a knife in my heart only two days ago when my own mother did not embrace my friend, an Otavalo tribe M.D. from Ecuador, who is visiting for the UN Indegenous People mission. My mother is usually “very nice” to my “other” more spanish/white looking friends!....

I am andean myself!, I “discovered” this in an intreview on a Spanish speaking radio. My intervier (from Chile) asked for the origin of my name. “I only know is indigenous” I responded, “but we are from the Coast of Peru”, as if this would excuse me from having an indegenous name.....

You are very right Dave! In the world we live today, WE ALL should watch Soy Andina over and over till we “learn”.... I never though of labeling myself progressive, I only want to be human...thanks to Soy Andina I also continue to be very proud of my andean looks!

Ana Maria QUISPE

PD. QUISPE in the quechua language of Peru means clarity, transparency, it should be adopted by our brother Dave!

    –  (10/05  at  03:44 PM)

Message for Mitch Teplisky,

Congratulations on the film’s success.  I’ve been reading the enthusiastic viewer responses.  Hope soon to see this much loved and highly crafted work of art. 

I am in Lima at the moment, remembering past collaborations and looking forward to new ones.

Best wishes,


    –  (10/05  at  05:51 PM)

From “you can’t go home again” to “deal with it, we all change” Great job Mitch. You cut the parts I hoped you would.  More off-line. Chris (New York).

    –  (10/05  at  08:12 PM)

Un mensaje bilingüe para mi hermana Ana María Quispe/A bilingual message for my sister Ana María Quispe.  Primero en español y después en inglés.  First in Spanish and then in English.

¡Cuánto me alegra saber que eres orgullosa de tu apariencia andina!  Uno siempre debe aceptarse tal como es.  Además, hay muchas hermosas mujeres andinas.  Por ejemplo, mi novia Tina quien es peruana y orgullosa de su hermosa piel canela.  También, Nélida y Cynthia son hermosas.  Cuando estuve en el sexto grado me inspiré a aprender a hablar el español porque me quedé fascinado con una hermosa colombiana en mi clase con piel canela y pelo negro.  Obviamente, si ella no hubiera tenido sangre indígena o algún mestizaje con familiares indígenas o, posiblemente negras, no hubiera tenido piel canela.  En Latino América se habla elogiosamente sobre la piel canela y con razón.  El color de la piel canela es hermoso.  Es por la influencia del racismo que se habla con menosprecio del indio.  Sin embargo, ¿cuántas personas en Latino América no tienen ningún mestizaje racial, tomándose en cuenta que muchos tienen piel canela?  Serían sólo los blancos panes de leche. 

En Solidaridad,

Tu hermano DAVE

I’m so happy to know that you’re proud of your Andean looks!  One must always accept oneself as one is.  Besides, there are many beautiful Andean women.  For example, my beautiful girlfriend Tina who is Peruvian and proud of her beautiful cinnamon-colored skin.  Also, Nélida and Cynthia are beautiful.  When I was in sixth grade I was inspired to learn to speak Spanish because I was fascinated with a beautiful Colombian girl in my class with cinnamon skin and black hair.  Obviously, if she had not had any indigenous blood or some race mixture with indigenous family members, or possibly Blacks, she would not have had cinnamon skin.  In Latin America one speaks in praise of cinnamon skin and with good reason.  The color of cinnamon skin is beautiful.  It is due to the influence of racism that people speak ill of the Native Peoples of the Americas.  However, how many people in Latin America have no racial mixture, taking into account that many have cinnamon skin?  It would only be the very whitest ones.

In Solidarity,

Your Brother Dave

    – David H Schraeger (10/06  at  05:23 PM)

Id love to view this documentary but alas I’m in Chattanooga TN. Not much of a chance of a viewing down in these parts:-) If it comes to Atlanta im there! Otherwise please let me know if there is any way I can get a copy at some point.

Thanks, Carol Bosch Caceres Bird

(mom is peruvian /dad is belgian)

    –  (10/07  at  05:19 PM)

Carol, we’d love to bring the film to many parts of the USA, not just the usual big ones. We are working on that. And we don’t have to be invited by film festivals. Universities, cultural centers, libraries, communities can invite us! Mitch

    –  (10/07  at  05:20 PM)

Wonderful! I just returned from a trip to Peru and was already missing it. The film truly captured the beauty found in village life. Looking forward to the DVD release.

Michael Kotzen

Kotz Custom Cajon & Percussion

    – Michael Kotzen (10/09  at  09:53 AM)

Congratulations Mitch - I went to your premiere at LA Latin American FF where I volunteer for the week and I was very moved and proud to see your

work natural and well presented.

Gracias por querer y hablar bien de mi pais nativo: “SOY ANDINA” es fenomenal mostrando nuestro rico folklore y costumbres de la sierra peruana y creo que puedes ofrecerl el documental a los Distritos Escolares de California y demas con poblacion latinoamericana.

- Mario Ledesma

    –  (10/09  at  01:35 PM)

Congratulations! Considering you took a huge risk, your efforts have been worthwhile; your film, manages to capture aspects of the essence of Peruvian culture and hints on the aspects of relative values facing peoples of diverse backgrounds and in different parts of the world today, while at the same time widening the door to inquiry, curiosity and discovery.

    –  (10/09  at  09:38 PM)

Many thanks to you for such a special evening.  I very much appreciated attending the important occasion of the first west coast showing of this story.  It could not have been better.

    –  (10/10  at  04:05 PM)


Mitch, I asked you tonight about the timeframe and stories of both characters, how they have a parellel feel via email comunications amongst them when sharing moments, the scenes in which they are both together are almost magical....muchas gracias!! the children dancing were amazingly captured, takes me back to “mi PACHAMAMA ANDINA”

    –  (10/16  at  09:46 AM)

Hi Mitch! It was nice to see you in Boston and the film was Fantastic! I trully loved it. Congratulations again.

    –  (10/16  at  10:18 AM)

Wow, I’m blushing!:) And very pleased. Nelly,your comments as an Ancashina and friend of Nelly Silva really mean a lot to me. That’s the big test, pleasing the Andeans!:)

    –  (10/16  at  10:20 AM)

What a satisfying end to many years of hard work.  It was worth the wait.  Anyone who has ever been curious about where their family came from, or who has had to leave their family to pursue opportunity will relate to this film.  Learning about Peruvian culture and dance was fascinating, and knowing these two amazing women has enriched my life.  Congratulations on this great accomplishment.

    – Nancy Barber (10/21  at  09:38 PM)

Hi Mitch… Your film was great.  We all loved it. It is great to walk out of movie and actually feel good. Keep me posted if it comes to the Cape area and I will round up people. Keep up the good work.

- Caroline

    –  (10/24  at  01:55 PM)

I saw “Soy Andina” at the Harvard Film Archive. I was enchanted and moved and wanted to be sure my grandaughter and others could see it. I saw the dance as part of the richness and beauty of the people and the place. It is also a film of a remarkable, talented and sympathetic woman whose strength and dedication would surely be an inspiration to my 9 year old grandaughter who studies dance as well. I look forward to the release of the DVD.

    – Janet and Jeff Murray (10/24  at  04:05 PM)

Hi Mitch and Cynthia-

It was so wonderful to meet you both and have the opportunity to share this film with the Bay Area. I’m very excited for your return in June- if not before- and I’m really glad that the Ethnic Dance Festival was responsive to the idea of collaborating with us. Thank you again for bringing your beautiful journey to the Bay Area!! Hasta pronto!

- Charlotte von Hemert

International Latino Film Society

    – Charlotte von Hemert (10/27  at  12:14 PM)

Hi Mitch, I’ve been a follower of Soy Andina for quite a while and last year I thought I heard there would be a DVD coming out… if this is true could you tell me the approximate release date? I’m from CT and have shown my parents the trailer… I was hoping to purchase the DVD for them

- A huge Fan, Liz

    –  (10/27  at  07:20 PM)

Liz and everyone - the rumors are true. There will definately be a DVD for sale. We’re aiming for end of year. I’ll announce it like crazy here on the web and in newsletter - don’t worry, you’ll find out!:) Mitch

    –  (10/27  at  07:22 PM)


Hola a todos! I emigrated from Peru 1989 at the age of 15 and lived in Berkeley – CA - USA with my parents ever since. I’m the first generation in my family born in Lima-Peru with parents from the Andes. My parents took me to the Andes every year since I was 2 years old so I got to love it and appreciated but in Lima I had to behave and talk different so my friends can accept me. This is a reality that not only in Peru occurs but in every other country in one way or another. Now, I’m an electrical engineer graduated from the University of Berkeley and with masters in the University of San Francisco. This movie was so real for me and touched me very much. It’s the first Peruvian movie that I ever seen around here that brought out the beauty and the reality of people from the Andes and other parts of Peru using the dance and the music as a form of communication to the big screen. Peru is a rich country in many ways and can be a great source for learning about unity and love of many different cultures. Learning about a country’s culture can help us all appreciate it better regardless where we’re from. Thank you Mitch and all who made it happen. I hope Mitch will bring more Peruvian movies to make all the Peruvians so proud to be Peruvian and also share the Peruvian culture with the rest of the world. There are a lot to share and learn from Peru’s vast culture. Also Cynthia’s performance last night was outstanding and creative. It was a dance at the end of the movie that spoke more than a 1,000 words can express. Spoke about how people are transform by the influence of the city of Peru but still have “the heart of the Andes” deep inside. Cynthia, Nelida, and Mitch, we love you here in Berkeley! And wish you all the best in your future projects. (Berkeley-California, USA)

    –  (10/28  at  02:28 PM)

I just saw the screening last night as part of the Queens International Film Festival and have to say that I fell in love with this film. Thank you Nelida and Cynthia for sharing your story. It was well worth the wait. Cynthia bravo for being honest with your dance. You touch many of our hearts.

Your dance at the end of the film was amazing. It’s sad that racism and self-hatred is still an issue for most of Peruvians. Hopefully with sharing some light to it Peruvians will be more accepting of themselves and their beauty. I’m still full of nostalgia. I am recommending this film to every Peruvian I know and can’t wait for the DVD to come out. Thank you all!

    –  (11/10  at  12:52 PM)

I really enjoyed the film. Thank you so much for making this possible. I feel that there was a need for this story to be told. I want to help spread the word, it really touched my heart.

    –  (11/10  at  07:33 PM)

It’s a cold and rainy late night movie at PS 166 in Astoria yesterday !! Cynthia’s dance was really a nice piece !!

This is my second screening w/ Soy Andina and it’s really nice to see more of “La fiesta patronal “ but one editing part might make some audience wonder, is there another fiesta ?? While Cynthia was on her way searching for Marinera, at one point La Fiesta Patronal showed up again w/ Neli dancing w/ Cynthia!

All in all it’s good to see more of La Fiesta Patronal !! One day, I wish to be at that Fiesta ~ 17 hrs bus ride from Lima ? I was surprised Leda told me that she hasn’t been to Llamellin .. Let’s go next year !!

- Jenny

    – Jennster (11/10  at  09:14 PM)

Hey, I saw the class from the video! It was amazing! Here in Lima, I keep on hearing form people that comes from the States lots of nice comments on your work and the documentary. I keep it alll in my heart.

    – Jorge Miranda (11/16  at  08:23 PM)

Thank you for everything. I have gotten nothing but wonderful feedback from the staff and trustees in attendance. Everyone really enjoyed the program, as well as Elena Tuero’s art.

It was just wonderful.

- April Lyzak, programming, Museum of Early Trade and Crafts (Madison, NJ

    – April Lyzak (12/04  at  08:37 AM)

Just a short note to say how OUTSTANDING the program about Peru and two modern immigrant women was yesterday.  A prestigious event for METC to sponsor (the film was first shown at Lincoln Center in Sept) and METC was a prestigious venue for the film maker to interact with a responsive, diverse audience. A win, win. Kudos to all who helped make this event possible.

- Cheers, Leanna Brown

NJ State Senator (ret.) State Senator

    – Leanna Brown (12/04  at  06:21 PM)

When I saw the premiere of Soy Andina at this year’s LatinBeat Festival, I immediately thought that it would be a prime addition to the Hispanic New York Film Festival. First, Soy Andina portrays the experience of a Latin American immigrant community (the Peruvian community) that is not so much talked about—yet their contribution to the internationalization of the US Latino immigrant population is highly significant. Second, Soy Andina is just a wonderful film, that highlights the universal motives underlying the experience of immigration, uprooting and re-definition of identity. I salute Mitch Teplitsky and his team for this top-notch contribution to the Hispanic heritage of the United States.

    – Claudio Remeseira (12/04  at  07:03 PM)

It was great to see Soy Andina again (in Madison)—it’s the kind of movie you can watch several times and never get bored, because of the strong emotional side.

    –  (12/06  at  04:07 PM)

When I saw the premiere of Soy Andina at this year’s LatinBeat Festival, I immediately thought that it would be a prime addition to the Hispanic New York Film Festival. First, Soy Andina portrays the experience of a Latin American immigrant community (the Peruvian community) that is not much talked about. But their contribution to the internationalization of US Latino immigrant population is highly significant in terms of culture, economic and social effects. Second, Soy Andina is just a wonderful film, that highlights the universal motives underlying the experience of immigration, uprooting and re-definition of identity. I salute Mitch Teplitsky and his team of collaborators for this top-notch contribution to the Hispanic heritage of the United States.

--Claudio Ivan Remeseira

Co-curator, Hispanic New York Film Festival

    – Mitchell Teplitsky (01/22  at  12:09 PM)

Mitch, I just watched Soy Andina and loved it.  Hard to stop smiling and moving my body! A great portrayal of life in Lima and the Sierra, and the search for identity of Peruvian migrants in New York City. A wonderful film.


William P. Mitchell

Freed Foundation Professor in the Social Sciences/ Professor of Anthropology

Department of History and Anthropology

Monmouth University

West Long Branch, NJ

    –  (01/28  at  10:42 AM)

Mitch—loved it! So intimate, and also a universal exploration of self. “Who am I?”—the timeless question. Well crafted, great job. - David Gaynes, Saving Hubble

    – David Gaynes (02/01  at  02:17 PM)

Hola Mitch, ¡Felicitaciones! It made me so nostalgic for Peru, all the dances and the places. It really captured a lot of what Peru is about and I remembered several occasions when I have found myself in someone’s house for a get together that turned into an impromptu music and dance session. Everyone seems to have so much music in them.

I had no idea that there was such a strong Peruvian tradition in the States (but I guess it’s logical if I only stopped to think about it) and it was interesting to see that side of it too.

I can understand why Nélida’s story and Cynthia’s story were put together to give a full picture of Peruvian culture, but to me, one thing got a little lost. I would like to have seen more of Nélida’s role as the host of the Llamellín fiesta and how, as an outsider now, she got to be in that position. That all led up to the most touching part of the film for me, her sister Noelia asking if there is any place in the world where familes are not separated. In Cynthia’s part, I thought it was excellent to see Peru’s regions brought together through dance, again seen through the eyes of another “outsider”.  I thought that Cynthia’s story was a good way to link the different parts of the country and she is a great dancer ¿no? From the educational perspective, I hope that the film makes Peru more accessible to people who don’t know the country and that it shows people just how rich Peru is, through dance if nothing else.

I hope that the film has great success and, now that I have seen it, I shall be very pleased to recommend it in the next edition of Footprint Peru. It is, as you say in the publicity, a joyous celebration and we certainly need more of those!

Mucha suerte and thank you for sending me the copy of the DVD,

with best wishes, Ben Box

Editor, Footprint Peru

    –  (02/04  at  08:20 PM)

My wife Barbara and I loved the film and I believe that most everyone will as well.  Filled with joy and music, the film provides a wonderful portrait of rural and urban Peru, Peruvian migrants to the Unites States, and people’s search for identity and meaning in their lives—Bill Mitchell

    – Bill Mitchell (02/16  at  12:47 PM)

My mother and I had the wonderful pleasure of taking a coastal trip from Los Angeles to Santa Barbara to see the screening of” Soy Andina”. La pelicula hizo revivir muchos bellos momentos. This is definitely a fabulous piece of Peruvian culture. My mom is serrana from a little town called Apata in between Jauja and Huancayo and she connected with everything Nelida experienced. I, as well, was able to relate to Cynthia’s being a first generation American. I really enjoyed it and shed a few tears of joy. It captivated & educated everyone in the theatre that Latinos are not just all about “techo-cumbia.”

    – June & Rosie Fonseca Munoz (02/22  at  02:14 PM)

Hi Mitch,

A quick e-mail to tell you of my perfect Friday morning. As the snow wasfalling outside, my partner, our puppy and I gathered comfortably in front of the tv. For 70 minutes we were marvelously transported to the sights and sounds of the Andes. What a treat! What a sensory and emotional journey! Thanks for a magical Friday morning and congratulations on a superb documentary! - Judy

    –  (02/25  at  12:05 PM)

The film came at the end and made a terrific wrap-up to the event; the response was in general very warm, and everyone working on other intercultural encounters (London and Trinidad, Newark and Brazil, etc.) found it easy to make connections, so the big points came across very well.

Juan mentioned your challenge in making the 50-minute

classroom-length version, and we briefly discussed the possibility of cutting it to focus more exclusively on dance or more exclusively on the cultural encounter, except that the strength of the film is in putting these two together--so all we came up with was a sense tha if you had to make cuts, the most redundancy was in the scene where Cynthia is adjusting to Lima--that could be a little foreshortened.

We felt that both stories were greatly interesting, but that there was an imbalance: the film ended up being more about Cynthia. It’s understandable why this should be, given the delicacy of talking about Nelida’s more conflictual situation--for example the film does not say so, but I’m sure her role as alfareza means that she is actually paying for the fiesta? And Juan mentioned that some footage had been cut dealing with her feelings of discomfort in America.

I do think that the two stories would work together more strongly if Nelida’s story were more fully told: otherwise there’s a risk of making Cynthia’s story pretty romantic--she DOES get out of Lima and back to the “real” Peru, connect with authentic traditions etc (even though they are taught in a school and performed in competitions!), In fact, Nelida’s village shows what the “authentic” folk tradition is--lots of cultural influence from outside (as in the wonderful fight over the music) and lots of tension over money control, etc.

So I guess it depends partly on your desired audience: you could cut down to really focus on Cynthia for an audience of say high school students, where that one story is sufficiently complex and something with which they can identify. But if I were using it in a university course, or watching it on PBS, say, I would want the two stories in all their complexity: Nelida’s conflictual relationship with both of her “homes” is such a basic immigrant experience, and that kind o f intimate interpersonal tension is a kind of culture shock different from the more institutionalized intercultural experience that Cynthia has in her roles as tourist, foreign student, and dance apprentice.  Cynthia’s experience shows that you can encounter another capital-C Culture effectively through formal institutions--and those institutional interactions can of course foster genuine human warmth and real relationships--but Nelida’s experience shows that you can’t go home again. (In fact, it’s often social relations more than cultural difference that creates problems in these encounters: Americans tend to treat culture and society are the same thing, but they aren’t).

Anyway, that tension between cultural goodwill and social discomfort is a theme in which I’m quite interested (as you see): I think it’s already visible in the film as it stands, but could be brought out more strongly and really with great efficacy if Nelida’s side was spelled out more fully. Everyone liked the storytelling device of the emails and the intergenerational relationship between the women.

Many thanks for making the film available to us--it was a great enrichment to the event.

All best,

Dorothy Noyes, Associate Professor

Center for Folklore Studies, Ohio State University

    – Dorothy Noyes (03/22  at  02:59 PM)

I saw your film over the weekend and really enjoyed it.  I think it’s especially a great film for youth audiences.  Even if we weren’t to arrange a public screening of this film, is this a film we could order to keep in our library and show to the high school kids that we bring to DC every summer?


Ranald Woodaman

Exhibitions and Public Programs Director

Smithsonian Latino Center

    –  (03/24  at  06:11 PM)

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