'Salero' US Premiere: Bolivian Salt Gatherer Documentary To Debut At Full Frame, San Francisco International Film Festival

Mike Plunkett’s feature documentary "Salero" is an existential portrait of a
 Bolivian salt gatherer who is the last link between old world and new. Salero Film

Following its successful world premiere at IDFAMike Plunkett's Salero will have its North American Premiere as part of the official selection at the 19th edition of the Full Frame Documentary Film Festival to take place April 7-10, 2016 in Durham, NC. The film is also an official selection of the San Francisco International Film Festival, April 21-May 5. Additional screenings of "Salero," which was produced by Cinereach and has garnered support from The MacArthur Foundation, Tribeca Film Institute, San Francisco Film Society, and NYSCA, will be announced soon.

The earth's largest salt flat, Bolivia’s Salar de Uyuni, is an otherworldly expanse of white. For generations, its only signs of life have been the saleros who harvest salt from its radiant surface. In the film “Salero,” we see this secluded region thrust into the future when Bolivia embarks on a plan to extract a precious mineral from the Salar and build an infrastructure that will connect it to the modernized world. What follows is a poetic journey through the eyes of Moises Chambi Yucra, one of the last remaining salt gatherers, whose story explores how identity is formed by both tradition and progress. 

Salt is precious to Moises, but it is the Salar's untapped lithium reserve that is predicted to make Bolivia "the Saudi Arabia of the 21st century." This film comes during tremendous change in Bolivia, and captures the precise, historic, moment when its famous Salar, one of the world's most remote places, transformed into a player in the global economy. 

In the film, Bolivia's first indigenous president, Evo Morales, launches a plan to build a lithium industry without interference from other nations, pledging an end to resource exploitation by foreigners. The first step by the government-run Corporación Minera de Bolivia (COMIBOL) is to build a pilot lithium extraction operation, which we see develop from dream to reality. In this complex economic and political climate, and with the stunningly cinematic Salar as its setting, “Salero” is an immersive personal encounter with destiny rewritten. 

Director Mike Plunkett is a New York-based director, writer and editor for film and TV. His short films have shown at the Sundance Film Festival, the Queens Museum, the DGA, and aired on PBS. About making Salero, Plunkett states, “I expected to bear witness to a traditional way of life as it was replaced with modern industry. However, what came increasingly into focus was the internal, emotional journey of a man, as he came to terms with leaving behind his identity.” He continues: “As Moises would work each day on the Salar, and I on making the film, it was a shared effort to preserve what would otherwise be lost to history. Universal questions came to light: How does our connection to place define who we are? What does progress give us, and what does it take away? What can we preserve in a world of constant change?”

SALERO Festival Teaser from Cinereach on Vimeo.

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Natalie Roterman
Natalie Roterman

Natalie (from Mexico) joined Latin Times back in 2014 and she is all about pop culture and entertainment. She also has a genetic love for food and traveling. Follow her and get the scoop on the biggest upcoming films and TV shows, plus interviews with your favorite stars that you won’t want to miss. When she’s not writing for Latin Times, she’s either filming her next episode of “El Show de Natalie,” at a movie theater, binge-watching a new TV series, or planning her next meal.