DER Documentary

At Highest Risk

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by Rebecca Rivas
color, 42 min, 2006

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Just as the rivers of the Andes mountains twist and coil in a curious maze, so does the grave situation of Peruvian women's health care.

Within the past decade, the Andean women in Peru have faced a massive sterilization campaign, exorbitant fines for homebirths, remnants of a deadly civil war, and the second highest maternal death rate in South America. Yet, as they have for centuries, the Quechua and Aymara people are fighting to preserve their traditions, beliefs and integrity.

Through the compelling story of one Andean woman, Judyth Aguero Vega, we see the horrors and triumphs of Peru's volatile health care situation. Inside a small adobe kitchen, Elsa Romero-Murrado, a midwife in the rural town of Capacmarca, takes us through rarely seen birthing ceremonies. Down the dirt path, her neighbor Judyth, 27, shares her fears of birth as she bestrides the lines of modern and traditional medicine. Their town sits seven hours from the nearest hospital. Cerlia Mendoza, president of the Mother's Club, testifies to a list of 200 women who were bribed by doctors to undergo sterilization.

At Highest Risk winds through the beauty of Andean people's spirituality and their mysterious gift of self-preservation throughout centuries of adversity. As part of a Fulbright grant, our crew spent one year researching and filming in some of the most inaccessible regions of the Peruvian Andes. This is one of the most intimate looks at reproductive health care yet filmed in a developing country.

Film Festivals, Screenings, Awards
Society for Visual Anthropology/AAA Conference, Washington DC, 2007
INNERMISSION/LOVEORAMA TOUR, September 5 - October 31, 2006
National Women's Studies Association Conference, Illinois, 2007
Tulipanes Latino Art & Film Festival, Michigan, 2007
India International Women Film Festival, New Delhi, 2007
Salut per al desenvolupament/Health for Development Film Festival, Barcelona, Spain, 2009

Related Resources
Film Review from The Lancet.

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Supported By Massachusetts Cultural Council National Endowment for the Humanities National Endowment for the Arts