Daughter of the Lake

Nelida is an Andean woman able to communicate with nature’s spirits. She feels she is the daughter of the lakes that provide water to her village.

But just beneath her lakes, Yanacocha, Latin America’s largest gold mine, has discovered a deposit valued at billions of dollars. They have the Peruvian government’s support to mine it, even though it means drying out the lakes.

Farmers who live downstream oppose the project, because they fear running out of water. It’s a life and death struggle. The police have killed five men during the protests and the farmers not only have to confront the political and economic powers, but also the people in their communities who now depend on the small jobs the mine has given them.

When Nelida joins the march from her homeland to Lima, the country’s capital, over a thousand kilometers away, she realizes she’s not alone. There are thousands of people who want to protect the Andean water sources.

Nelida's story has parallels in Bolivia too, where a group of women live on dried out land. Their water disappeared after years of incessant mining. Then there is Bibi, a Dutch jeweler who exhibits her pieces on spectacular catwalks in Europe and who decides to visit Peru to discover the origin of the gold she uses.

Back in Peru, again, there is retaliation against the protesters. Marco, an ex-priest and Nelida's mentor, is brutally detained by police whilst sitting in a public square, demonstrating peacefully. The conflict goes on. We see how, in front of 150 policemen about to evict a peaceful protest at the

lakes, Nelida grabs a phone and communicates with journalists in the city of Cajamarca.

Her determination prevents a brutal attack. But her participation in these demonstrations has consequences: Nelida's father, who works for the mine, loses his job.

But this doesn't change her determination. She goes back to the lakes and prays to the water spirits. She makes them an offering of flowers and the photos of the five farmers killed during this seemingly endless conflict.

Finally, Nelida asks her mother for the strength to keep going in her struggle for justice.

Director(s): Ernesto Cabellos Damian, Ernesto Cabellos Damián
Production: Núria Frigola Torrent, Guarango Films
Actors: Nélida Ayay Chilón, Máxima Acuña de Chaupe, Bibi van der Velden
Year: 2015
Duration: 87 min
Our age recommendation: 14
Language (audio): English, Spanish
Language (subtitles): French, English
Country of origin: Peru
Shooting Locations:

You can also view it for a fee at:

Further reviews


Main topic(s): Natural Resources & Mining
Secondary topics: drinking water activism
Mentions: water resources mining gold activism Peru spirit lake andes mountains feminism
Topic Page(s): Natural Resources & Mining

Host a Screening

Film Tips

Other Films