3 Dec 2021

Behind the scenes with Angela and Omar: the local film makers of the Farmers documentary series in Peru.

If you have been following the Farmers documentary series, you might be familiar with the atmospheric, intimate, and somewhat nostalgic scenes filmed in La Noria, Peru. It is there where Angela Ponce and Omar Quezada Beltrán have been following the life of Roberto, a banana farmer, during the past six months.

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Portrait of Sabina, Roberto's wife.

They are capturing how his life, and that of is community, has evolved in the midst of a global pandemic. Portraying not only the complications of Covid-19 (for example Roberto was the first one in his town to contract the disease) but also larger societal challenges, such as fighting for a living income and climate change.

From filming deep inside banana plantations to chatting with Roberto’s kids in their living room, here is what Angela and Omar had to say about their experience.

Fairtrade: What compelled you to work on this story?

Omar: During the pandemic our country entered a deep social and economic crisis that continues to be felt to this day. Personally, working with banana farmers meant portraying one example out of millions of Peruvians who are affected by this crisis and struggle to get ahead. In addition, my paternal family comes from the north of Peru, where this story happens. People there are extremely warm, welcoming and generous. I felt at home.

Angela: I have to agree with Omar, Peru was one of the most affected countries at a global level by Covid-19 and a lot of families are struggling both from a health but also economic perspective. In this context, this story brings a spotlight to people who are crucial yet often not visible: agricultural workers. The story of Roberto and his family is just one example of how many farmers are fighting several battles at the same time right now.

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Roberto reading about latest political news: a new president for Peru

Fairtrade: What has been the most challenging part of filming/photographing this series?

Angela: One of the things we had to be mindful about was how to get close to the community in La Noria, even if the focus was on Roberto’s family. It was necessary to build a relationship of trust with the people who were around us. The job of a photographer is not to go to a place and take beautiful images, but to properly understand and connect with the people we will portray. Given that it was filmed over several months, this project gave me more time to be able to get to know them better to then tell their story.

Omar: Indeed, it was very important to take care of the relationships we were building with the people we were portraying. On one hand maintaining the safety protocols, but also being tactful enough not to overwhelm them with our presence. We made a great effort to approach them with respect, telling them why we were doing what we were doing. Anyways, surely on some visit we must have tired them, but at least they never made us feel bad about it.

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Evening walks with Roberto's daughter and son.

Fairtrade: What was the most rewarding?

Angela: I have to say it was immensely gratifying to spend time with the Gallo family and feel their strength and hope, especially from Roberto. Despite adversity he is always willing to help his community. It was also great to see him in contrast with the new generations. For example, his kids follow traditions but also break away from the many stereotypes that fall on farmers, or people from the countryside.

Another moment I would like to highlight would be from when filming episode two, when Sabina (Roberto’s wife) who is very shy and only gives very short interviews in camera, opened up to me and Omar and shared a lot of stories from her family and kids when the cameras were off. We of course did not film this, but it was a good reminder that some things will only be recorded in our memories.

Omar: All the people in the La Noria community were incredibly generous to us. Connecting with them and the Gallo family at such an intimate level will be something I will always remember. The situations we lived with them, the time we shared, their stories and dreams for the future are now part of my memory and my learnings as a person and as a filmmaker.

Fairtrade: Do you have a favorite moment from behind the cameras you would like to share?

Omar: Oh, there are several! I really enjoyed the trips in the hopper of Roberto's truck to his banana crops, or when we went for a walk around La Noria with Denilson and María (Roberto's children) and had longer conversations. The last day when we went with the family to the beach was also very special.

Angela: Yes! I also really enjoyed the last day of recording, when we went to the beach with the whole Gallo family. They are usually are not able to take a break somewhere else due to resources and lack of free time so it was so nice to see them out of their routines, watching the birds, looking at the ocean, being kids again.

Learn more about all the film makers in the project here. If you have not watched the series, you can catch-up and stream all episodes on the dedicated website. Part three has only been up for a few days so you can be amongst the first to watch it!

You can also follow fairtrade.farmers on Instagram for more behind the scenes content.

All film makers and photographers are part of Fairpicture

Creativity, bustling activity and the will to shape things: the Global South is more than hunger, poverty and dependence on aid. Fairpicture wants to change the perception of the Global South. Image after image - because it is images that shape our view of the world. It works with a network of local photographers and videographers who tell their own stories and thus contribute to an authentic and just communication.