Lupe el de la Vaca

Lupe el de la Vaca

Documentary | Blanca X. Aguerre | Mexico | 2011 | 79 min | Spanish | English subtitles
17:30 | SK/2

Somewhere in Mexico lies a valley where farmers live and work. They do not have much, and life is hard and simple. But life is beautiful too, and it is full of wit and unusual myths. Especially the tale of the notorious Lupe, who terrorises the area on the back of his cow, is one that is often discussed.

The men, women and children from the little village El Corralito, in the Mexican Sierra del Tigre, are a diverse set of people. We see a wide range of charismatic faces and distinctive characters. They laugh a lot, and they all seem to be good people who work like an ox. And every single villager can tell a story about the mysterious Lupe, who supposedly lives in a neighbouring village.
‘… or maybe he is already dead, because he has been living there for over a century. In any case, he wears boots or rubber shoes and at least four pairs of trousers on top of each other. Every time one of his trousers rips he will simply put another one. He does the same with his shirts. And he wears one of those hard top helmets worn by electricians. And he rides a huge cow, hung with pots and pans, which is saddled like a horse. He looks like one of those apaches from the movies.’
Lupe el de la Vaca brings homage to real farmers. Virtually everything is still done manually. The film thus gives an interesting insight into the farming life that is still led by millions of people, and also tells us how billions of people used to live. Ever-increasing mechanisation and industrialisation will continue to defeat this way of life.
But in El Carrolito every cow still has its own name. If the farmers call out their name, they still willingly leave their group to be milked. The people make their own cheese, slaughter their own chickens, and the men catch fish by walking through the little lake with a big net. At the same time, tales of dwarfs and goblins are interwoven into the fabric of life in this world of ‘honest and hard work’, such as ‘Lupe and his Cow’ and many other stories. Whether these stories are true is beside the point; they are true for the villagers who tell them with animated looks on their faces.
Lupe el de la Vaca’s greatest merit is that it has recorded every expressive and unique aspect of this special community of farmers. It is a film that is both remarkable and charming but also a very realistic film due to its blend of ethnography, experimental participatory interviews and animation. Lupe el de la Vaca is scored with delightful swinging music from the villagers’ local radio and is shot with a surprisingly appropriate instagram style filter.
Lupe el de la Vaca was realised thanks to the support of IDFA’s Jan Vrijmanfonds (‘Jan Vrijman Fund’).

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