The Surfing Reed-Boat Fishermen of Huanchaco

We generally associate Peru with documentaries set in the Andes and featuring their mountain communities and the wildlife. This documentary focuses instead on Huanchaco, a small locale, set on Peru’s coastline, which might be called the cradle of Peruvian surfing. Since time immemorial, the fisherman who live here have spent their leisure hours braving the ocean waves in their homemade caballitos, cultivating a passion for the sea, for the water, and for their reed boats. For ages now, time seems to have stood still in Huanchaco, but more recently, the waves are attracting professional surfers, and along with them, visions of triumph and wealth. And meanwhile, this world no longer seems connected to the professional fishermen and their harsh everyday life. Is this traditional fishing village, well-known for its handmade reed boats, now becoming a trendy surfing spot? Will the younger generations exchange the tradition of their fathers for competition, commerce, and investment? The first hostels are already under construction, modern surfboards are being produced and marketed, and the reed beds of the fishermen are vanishing in favor of modern development. Meanwhile, the maneuverable caballitos are ridiculed by young people here as relics of a backward society. As a new clientele discovers Huanchaco, globalization is causing the village to hold its breath. On display here in Huanchaco is a universal phenomenon: young people are betting on progress and revolting against tradition, hoping to lead lives that are more exciting, or in some way better than those of their parents. This documentary is more than a film about tradition and modernity, money and commerce: it explores emotions, dreams, and family ties as well. This “wonderland” not only features a world that seems alien to us, but one that is also in a state of upheaval.

Date of broadcast: 28.05.2023, 19:30, arte

Screensplay / Direction: Susanne Brand
PlayTime: 43 min. min
Client: 2022, SWR/arte 

Produced: 2022 , lona•media