Portrait of the 'Peruvian Che Guevara', a famous Trotskyist and legendary peasant leader of the sixties: Hugo Blanco preferred to deconstruct his leadership and encourage self-government, becoming an anonymous activist: Hugo Indio. 

Starting with a journey to the forgotten jungle village where Blanco’s fight and fame began, the film director looks for the traces of the young black-bearded man with a gun on his shoulder and raised fist shouting "Land or Death!" and finds the traces of the indigenous peasant movement.
In the second part - in the aftermath of the Peruvian Internal Armed Conflict - she meets the tireless Hugo Blanco, her father’s revolutionary hero, in person. He is now a white-bearded indigenous and environmental activist: Hugo Indio.
The film is a diptych divided by a hiatus of silence and mourning for the rivers of indigenous blood that flowed when a generation’s dream, the one of the armed revolution, turned into a nightmare.

FULL FILM on Demand with English, German, French and Spanish Subtitles

„50 years later the maker of this visually impressive film met the legendary guerrilla leader.“  

"The black beard has turned white and the youthful attitudes inspired by Trotsky have taken on more realistic contours through the years in prison. None of this, however, changed Hugo's determination to join the fight against lawlessness and injustice at all times." One World Prague

    „L'image est très belle, la musique souvent extraordinaire et le personnage éminemment sympathique...“  Cinélatino". Rencontres de Toulouse

"A superstar of the activism world in Peru, he changed the way people view politics freeing communities with his words and his spirit (...) Today he is an older man, but his spirit and his vision for a better world based on Indigenous values remain strong". ImagineNative Film Festival

"What if Ernesto Guevara said Che was still alive? He would certainly have the features of Hugo Blanco!"


"an extraordinary soundtrack that contributes to achieving a friendly atmosphere at times and dense and deep in others, perfectly integrated" Francisco Adrianzén. Sound teacher, EICTV-Cuba

“The filmic work of Malena Martínez Cabrera is an essential contribution to the reconstruction of the historical memory of Peru and beyond Latin America. It is a source of reflection for the new generations, a work that I quote in my classes on Latin America of the present time”.
Dr. Franck Gaudichaud. University Toulouse Jean Jaurès

Director's note

 An intense epoch of internal war in Peru spanned my childhood and youth. The terrorist violence of the Maoists of the Shining Path was replicated by the brutal military repression. In their crossfire stood tens of thousands of indigenous peasants, the most forgotten and marginalized ones in the country. People that our racism had already faded out before the war.


The trauma left in the Peruvian population for two decades of terror (1980–2000) led many to identify now the faintest socialist impulse as a veiled communist or terrorist threat. For my generation ‚revolution’ is an ambiguous word. My generation is trying to process what happened.


After my extensive research in diverse visual archives in Peru, which depict Hugo Blanco in a sensationalist way and at the same time do not record the indigenous fights as part of the official history, I understood that my documentary film should show what is happening with the memory of the Peruvian Indigenous and Peasant struggles: it is fading out. 


The Agrarian Reform, the biggest social catalyst of modern Peru is only recounted beginning with the official law created in 1969 during the military government. Indigenous fights are still labeled as subversive acts. Century after century, Indigenous peoples are erroneously interpreted as suspects and aggressors or in a passive political role or as victims. Indigenous people are still "the other", the field of projection of the countries’ own fears. My film tries to approach the perspective of the Indigenous peasant movement.

Probably my biggest challenge was not to give up telling a counter-history - “bursting history against its grain” (W. Benjamin, 1995), - despite the expectation and the advice of telling the traditional hero-story about such a charismatic leader. My character himself still works in deconstructing the imagery of messianic guerrilla fighters and advocates for self-government by the people. He says there is no need for leaders. He seeks to put in the light the past and the present epic of Indian people, who were once overshadowed by him and by the light of the revolutionary imagery not just in Peru but also in the World. As for me, making a film rather ‚in the spirit‘ than ‘about’ Hugo Blanco means activating the memory of those forgotten collective indigenous fights. I think it is necessary worldwide to re-take knowledge of those facts facing the fact that in Latin America, rural social fighters and nature guardians are being murdered and are easily criminalized, relating them to communist threats.


I work with subliminal sound and images subtly touching national taboos. I’m afraid that my country won’t find its path to the so-much-longed-for reconciliation, and it won’t heal the deep wounds of our historical memory until we don’t dare to cross the traumatic waters and shadows seeded in our collective unconsciousness.  Malena Martínez Cabrera

Photo: Revela Lateinamerika / Marcela Torres

International outreach

The world premiere of Hugo Blanco, Deep River took place in the International Competition at the One World International Human Rights Documentary Film Festival in Prague on the 12th March 2019.
Our North American premiere was at the biggest indigenous film festival worldwide: ImagineNATIVE in Toronto, Canada. 
The film has been invited to film festivals in a dozen countries and won following awards:


Best international documentary film 
13. ATLANTIDOC. International Documentary Film Festival of Uruguay, 2019

Special mention "Ojo Latinoamericano". PUKAÑAWI 2020. XVI. Internacional Human Rights Festival of Sucre, Bolivia. 

Best Peruvian Feature Documentary film
National Film Festival of Huánuco, Peru, 2019

 Full festival list

Alternative Distribution Peru

The South American and Peruvian premiere of Hugo Blanco, Deep River took place in August 2019 at the Festival de Cine de Lima.

2019 the film traveled in an alternative rural distribution in Cusco, Peru, thanks to a project funded by the Film Section of the Peruvian Ministry of Culture, Dirección del Audiovisual, la Fonografía y los Nuevos Medios (DAFO). The film reached 1800 people in 6 screenings communitarian organized.

2020 due to the pandemic, several Virtual Communitarian Screenings took place online reaching more than 10.000 people.

The film can be seen now worldwide on-demand:

New screenings in rural Quechua areas are coming.

Full information (SP)


     Original title                                          HUGO BLANCO, RÍO PROFUNDO

     English title                                           HUGO BLANCO, DEEP RIVER

     Countries & year                                  Austria, Peru, 2019

     Length                                                   108'
     Director & producer                            Malena Martínez Cabrera

     Sound                                                     Omar Mustafá, Guido Deniro; Carlos Pino
     Image                                                     Gustavo Schiaffino (dop); Carlos Sánchez               Giraldo, Aureliano Lecca, Omar Mustafá, Malena Martínez
     Editing                                                    Malena Martínez , Alexandra Wedenig
     Dramaturgical advice                          Alejandra Almirón, Dieter Pichler, Jaana                    Puhakka
     Development                                         Marta Andreu, Nataly Villena, Catherine                    Bernstein

     Shooting format                                   HD 16:9, 16mm, Mini DV 4:3 Color

     Screening format                                 Spanish: DCP, File ProRes, Blu-Ray, DVD
                                                                      English, German, French: ProRes
     Audio                                                      Dolby Stereo 5.1

     Languages                                            Spanish, Quechua

     Subtitles                                                Spanish, English, German, French
     Project development                          Archidoc (MEDIA, La Fémis)

     Doc Markets                                         Agora Market, Thessaloniki Film Festival, 2019  Media Library, Visions du Réel, 2019, East Silver Market, Jihlava International FF 2018/19

Graphic designs in social media: Chris Yong-García, Neufa Q. García, Katya Zevallos, Juan Pablo Campana.




Malena Martinez Cabrera is a Peruvian film director, producer, photographer, and film critic with multiple cultural backgrounds based in Vienna, Austria, and Cusco, Peru. She lived in the Andes, in the jungle region, and on the coast side of Peru, where she studied Hispanic Literature (Catholic University, 1999) and Music. 

She received the Professional Development Fellowship of the Flaherty Film Seminar in 2021. In 2007 she obtained a Masters in Creative Documentary at the University Pompeu Fabra of Barcelona. She is an alumna of the class of Artistic Photography (at Friedl Kubelka School in Vienna), of the film development program ARCHIDOC (La Fémis, Paris, Amsterdam, Lyon), of the Aristoteles Workshop (Arte TV, Sibiel, Romania), and she was a Ruth Beckermann’s Mentée (FC Gloria Mentoring program for female filmmakers). 


She also holds a Magister’s degree in Spanish Philology (University of Vienna) obtained with a thesis about the film adaptation of Jose Maria Arguedas’ indigenist novel Yawar Fiesta

She currently manages an alternative distribution project which seeks to reach Quechua areas with no cinemas in Peru. 




2019  Hugo Blanco, Deep River  (108’)                                2009  Felipe, come back (67')                   


2017   Arcane (1’14’’) Third prize. Festival KinoWieNochNie. Filmarchiv, Austria; 
Cine de Artistas DocBsAs, etc.                                                                                
2017   Cinco trotskistas y Hugo Blanco (6’)                                           
2016  Diálogos que son monólogos (2’)                                                
2015  Archetype (1’15'')                                                                             
2014  Hugo Blanco y el periódico Lucha Indígena (15’)                                                                                      
2002  Ramiro en Viena (10') Special mention. Shorts on Screen. ORF.

Alternative Distribution in Peru

Funded by Ministry of Culture Peru

Film funded by

Federal Chancellery of Austria

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