In our conversation with Peruvian anthropologist and filmmaker Jimmy Valdivieso, we explore his newest film My Beloved Barrios Altos, a feature documentary about one of Lima’s most feared, and beloved, neighbourhoods.
While discussing his film with LAB’s film curator Karoline Pelikan, the director reveals why he keeps returning to this stigmatised neighbourhood. Even though Barrios Altos is part of the historic centre of Peru’s capital, it is known instead for its high crime rates, assaults and robberies – a bad reputation that the neighbourhood community has to deal with on a daily basis. Director Jimmy Valdivieso began visiting the barrio for field work in 2013. Since then, his mission has been to deconstruct some of the stigmas and prejudices that he himself held before getting to know “the wonderful people of Barrios Altos” and their community strength.
Barrios Altos is faced with a range of problems: political abandonment, houses and properties on the verge of collapse, crowded and often “invaded” space. Only a few blocks away, in the centre of Lima, hundreds of tourists learn about the architecture and urban development of the Spanish colonial era, and the political, economic and cultural importance of the city. But tourists also learn to “stay away” from Barrios Altos, and to be careful when crossing the invisible border that divides the city centre. In Jimmy’s film we follow five diverse characters; each one shares their daily challenges and their hopes for this barrio, their home.
Jimmy’s audiovisual production is linked to social programs to combat poverty in the community and his first documentary Esa gente existe (Those People do Exist) focuses on the same neighbourhood. Jimmy is currently working on a third film in the community – a trilogy and homage to Barrios Altos, one of the centres of the Peruvian criollo culture.