The cholita climbers of Bolivia have been subverting the culture of machismo since 2015 by climbing mountains. Not content to stay in their traditional roles as high-mountain cooks, these 11 escaladoras wanted to see for themselves what it felt like to go to the top. Pairing the traditional cholita garb of colorful skirts, shawls, bowler hats and brooches with ice axes and crampons, these women climb for the same reason many others do: that feeling of freedom that comes with standing on the summit.
“All we’re doing is giving these kids basic tools to live a normal life,” says Canadian photographer Nathan Beninger, who created Pura Vida, a safe house in Cusco, Peru, for exploited girls. In Casa, we meet four sisters whose family disintegrated when their mother died and the eldest was sold into slavery. Now all four live in the safety of Pura Vida, where they are learning to be kids again. Beninger's fundraising eschews words like “child prostitute” because, he says, “It shuts people’s brains right off.” And for Pura Vida, every penny counts.
The more idyllic its setting, the likelier a town will be targeted for tourist development, and no small Mexican fishing village is closer to paradise than Todos Santos, 50 miles up the Pacific coast from Cabo San Lucas. But a collective of fishermen stage a battle to preserve their patrimonio when they learn their century-old lease of a portion of a beach has been grabbed by developers proposing to triple the town’s size. Led by local attorney John Moreno, the group takes on a large corporation and corrupt politicians. For Todos Santos, as for Telluride, “sustainable development” can sound like an oxymoron to the community that was there before it was “discovered.” Yet the market for “mindful living” and life “at its essence” — as the Tres Santos project was advertised — is growing. Thus, humanity threatens to destroy what it craves, a painful irony not lost on the filmmakers.