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America ReFramed: Guacho del Norte

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Watch Tuesday January 27, 2015 at 8pm on WORLD.

In the quiet, bucolic Patagonian countryside in the town of Bahia Murta with 587 inhabitants we meet Eraldo Pacheco, a thoughtful man who has recently arrived at a momentous decision. “Things are worse here than ever,” Eraldo tells his father and family as he announces his plan to move to the United States to fulfill a three-year contract tending sheep almost 6,000 miles away in rural Idaho. In this observational documentary of impressive beauty and painterly cinematic images the imbalance of economic forces is seen in high relief. 

With poetic subtlety the film speaks to the economic fragility of these remote and rural communities in South America as well as the precarious and fickle agricultural economy up north. Once in Salt Lake City, Utah, we meet Jhonny Qispe, from Peru, who also made the trek up north and who also left a wife and two children behind. 

Peaceful, meditative scenes envelop the viewer – vast desert, steep mountains, winter’s terrain and thousands of sheep belie the angst of the economic woes that cause a separation between a man and his beloved, his elders, his children, and the spiritual majesty of his homeland. Jhonny is also deeply invested in being a provider for his family. But what might seem like a pastoral, nomadic life is a lonely and tough existence. 

While Eraldo is up north, he continues to fret about not being in Chile tending to his family, especially his elderly parents. Did he make the right choice?

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