The State of Things - Peru

José Sarmiento

I decided to write about films when I turned 21. And I never thought I would become a proper film critic.

My preparations and studies were in advertising, and I’ve been working as a publicist for seven years now. Through all that time, and before, my love of cinema grew strongly and I found myself turn from a simple film blogger, to a film studies enthusiast, to an obsessive film critic, until I co-founded and directed my own web magazine. That was the final result of all my efforts, and now, traveling to Berlin to meet what I hope will be my future kindred spirits, I reflect on this entire journey and the opportunities given to me in a country where cinema is in a constant pre-development stage.

I find myself in a lucky spot right now. My interest in cinema went from films to books, from images to the written word, from criticism to active collaboration with filmmakers. It's a universe I entered with confidence and the desire to meet my heroes, and nowadays I’m glad to say that not only do I know them, I am happy to be friends with them and even work with them. This gift given to me, from a self-taught discipline, to hard work, is a blessing I’m always grateful for. I never received formal training in film studies, yet I feel I’ve reached so many goals by now. I reckon though, this is just the start, because I will formalize my love for cinema with a post graduate degree this year.

Peru. It's a complicated country for cinema. There are no film masterpieces here (even though some people like to say so), and we live in an eternal incipient panorama of a nonexistent industry. Last year though, it seems like the phenomenon of product placement and some alliances through sponsorship of some brands, have given a fresh breath to the national production. Therefore, we have had a singular number of releases, but believe me, we’re far from being a prosper country like the Philippines, whose production and quality of films are simply breathtaking. Here, we’re starting something. We’re starting the first stage of an industry. It will be through the development of advertising and filmmaking though, and I cannot asses how this will work in the end. Yes, we have a Claudia Llosa, and we have the Vega brothers, but we’re far behind countries like Argentina or Chile.

In a country changing constantly, we need people who take risks, new proposals, new blood, fresh ideas, a new way to understand and to watch cinema. Maybe that is our purpose as young film critics, to think about cinema and expand the understanding of it. So here we are. Let’s see what the future brings.