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Wara Wara: Bolivia’s only known surviving silent film is restored

October 30, 2010

Good news lately for cinema historians. Just over a week ago, Russia presented ten “lost” silent films to the US. Now the Cinematecea Boliviana has re-released Wara Wara, the only known surviving film from Bolivia’s silent era. Directed by Jose Maria Velasco Maidana in 1930, the film was found in a La Paz basement in 1989 but not fully restored until this year.

Here’s the trailer:

Sadly, the BBC reports that some 28,000 films – half of them Bolivian – are moldering in the Cinemateca Boliviana. The Ministry of Culture is less than one year old and is still working on establishing a legal framework and securing a budget.

The executive director of Cinemateca Boliviana, Mela Marquez … says she understands why politicians believe providing food, education and health services to extremely poor people should take priority over culture. But she would like the archives to be declared part of Bolivia’s national heritage so they can get access to public funding to repatriate the vast majority of Bolivian films, which are being stored in foreign laboratories because of a lack of money and infrastructure in Bolivia. [BBC]

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