Portrait of the 'Peruvian Che Guevara', a famous Trotskyist and legendary peasant leader of the sixties: Hugo Blanco, who deconstructs his own leadership and encourages self-government, preferring to remain an anonymous activist: Hugo Indio. 

Starting with a journey to the forgotten jungle village where Blanco’s fight and fame began, the film director searches for traces of the young black-bearded man with a gun on his shoulder and raised fist shouting "Land or Death!" Along the way, she discovers the vivid indigenous peasant movement that Blanco fought for.
In the second part - in the aftermath of the Peruvian Internal Armed Conflict - she meets the tireless and now white-bearded revolutionary,  who has transformed into an indigenous and environmental activist: Hugo Indio.
The film is a diptych, with a hiatus of silence in between the two parts, as a mourning for the rivers of indigenous blood that were shed when the dream of the armed revolution turned into a nightmare.

WATCH THE MOVIE 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".

"Hugo Blanco, Río Profundo is a richly cinematic film grounded in Indigenous resistance and collective responsibility"  Niki Little. 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

Portrait of a revolutionary (108 min.)

Author's motivation

The author grew up during a time of intense internal conflict in Peru, where Maoist terrorists and brutal military repression affected thousands of indigenous peasants. The trauma of the two decades of terror left many Peruvians viewing any socialist impulse as a communist or terrorist threat. The author's documentary seeks to tell the counter-history of the Peruvian Indigenous and Peasant struggles that have been fading from memory. 

The film challenges traditional hero narratives and instead focuses on the epic of Indian people. The author uses subliminal sound and images to touch on national taboos and aims to activate the memory of forgotten collective indigenous fights. The author believes that until Peru confronts its traumatic past and collective unconsciousness, it cannot heal and achieve reconciliation.


     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.

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 film should visually express how the memory of the Peruvian Indigenous and Peasant struggles is fading away.   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 that made it possible 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 rural social fighters and nature guardians in Latin America are being murdered and criminalized, relating them to communist threats.
Through subliminal sounds and images I subtly attempt to touch on national taboos. I’m afraid that my country won’t find its way to 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


 is a Peruvian documentary film director, producer, photographer and cultural journalist,

who specializes in the cinema of the real. She has directed two documentaries including Hugo Blanco, Río Profundo, which won Best International Documentary Film at Film Festival Atlantidoc of Uruguay in 2019. After an autodidactic beginning, she specialized in auteur documentary at the Pompeu Fabra University in Barcelona in 2007. Martínez Cabrera's interest lies in individual, collective, and historical perception.

She was highlighted among the ten female Peruvian filmmakers of the decade by the film and cultural press of her country. Her thesis focused on the creation of the indigenous character in the adaptation of José María Arguedas' novel Yawar Fiesta by the filmmaker Luis Figueroa Yábar. It was the basis of her subsequent intellectual and cinematographic thinking. Her current interests are artificial intelligence and indigenous collective intelligence. In Hugo Blanco, Río Profundo, she focuses on historical memory and how it gets rearranged, expressed through the figure of the "Memory Leaf litter". In her recent projects, she reflects on virtuality and mental self-sufficiency in highly rationalistic cultures (Las Ventanas), and on the mental interdependence that underlies generational collective memory (Musqhuy Illa. Excavation of Dreams).

In 2015, she was selected for ARCHIDOC, the international workshop for film projects based on archival material at La Fémis (Paris, Lyon, Amsterdam). She also completed the annual art photography course at the Friedl Kubelka School in Vienna. In 2021 she received the Professional Development Fellowship at the 66. Flaherty Film Seminar in New York based on the theme of "Opacity" (Édouard Glissant).

Her films have been shown in the official selections of international festivals such as ImagineNATIVE Toronto, Festival Biarritz Amérique Latine (Focus Perú), Cinélatino Toulouse, One World Prague, DocBuenos Aires, Museo Reina Sofía (Anibal Quijano chair), Festival of Moving-Image- Arts Toronto, etc., as well as in indigenous and peasant communities in Peru.

Between 2019-2021, she was the director of an alternative distribution project funded by the Ministry of Culture of Peru, which reached Quechua areas without cinemas. In 2020, during the pandemic, together with the alternative media partners Wayka and Servindi, she organized the first large virtual cinemas in Peru, gathering about 1500 simultaneous families per screening.

She regularly participates as a juror in film festivals and competitions, and as a consultant for films and film labs. 

She is an advisory team member of NUNA, the Peruvian Association of Women Film Directors, a member of the AMA Association of Women and Dissident Audiovisual Workers of Peru, and of FC Gloria in Vienna.

She studied film with Frederick Wiseman, Viktor Kossakovsky, Claire Simon, J.L. Guerin, Mercedes Álvarez, Marie-Pierre Duhamel, J. Fontcuberta, J.L. Comolli, Marta Andreu (Pompeu Fabra University of Barcelona, 2007). With Paul Pawels, Catherine Bernstein (Archidoc Workshop, 2014/15, La Fémis). With Rafi Pitts, Jennifer Fox, Simon Brook, Thierry Garrel (Aristoteles Workshop in Romania), Pol Turrents (ESCAC in Barcelona) in 2009. In 2015 she was selected to be mentored by Ruth Beckermann in the FC Gloria Women Filmmakers Program in Vienna.
She has studied music and singing in Peru's Conservatorio Nacional and Escuela de Música Kodály. She has also sung in choirs in Lima and Vienna.

Martínez Cabrera has also published articles, film reviews, and photos in Peru's most important film magazines and newspapers. She holds degrees in Literature and Linguistics from the Catholic University of Peru and Romance Philology from the University of Vienna, Austria. 

#peruvianfilmdirector #femaledirector #documentaryfilmdirector



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.       
2002  Ramiro en Viena (10') Special mention. Shorts on Screen, ORF.             
2017   Cinco trotskistas y Hugo Blanco (6’) 
2014  Hugo Blanco y el periódico Lucha Indígena (15’)

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Información sobre la directora y sobre CERRO AZUL FILMS en español 

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:

Full information (SP)


 is a cinematographic office born to serve audiovisual sovereignty in Peru.
Our first major project was to take charge of the alternative distribution of the documentary film Hugo Blanco, Río Profundo by Malena Martínez Cabrera. Our main goal is to reach rural areas, especially Quechua, working in alliance with the existing alternative cultural circuit and citizens and authorities interested in bringing the event to your area.
Our experience in the field of virtual events comes from having organized Virtual Community Screenings, promoting the collective spirit and spaces for conversation (cinema forums) at the end of each screening. Among our exceptional achievements is organizing the first extensive virtual movie screenings in Peru with the alternative media WAYKA and SERVINDI, bringing together more than 1,500 simultaneous viewers on their platforms.
Cerro Azul Films was also in charge of preparing the radio version of the film, the DVDs, and Blu-rays, directing the entire workflow of adapting formats, subtitles, and adaptations to each medium.
At the same time, CAF has distributed the documentary mentioned above at more than 20 international festivals since 2019.


We offer specialized advice to promote alternative distribution projects - from preparing your press kit and trailer to public relations work and media coverage of the screenings (aimed at distributors and producers).
We also offer specialized guidance on developing documentary film projects (for authors, directors, and screenwriters) and film production services in Peru in English, German, Italian.


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