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Time Turned Backwards: Making the Quechua Version of State of Fear

In the Quechua language, the past is in front of us, because we’ve already lived it, we see it clearly. The future is behind us because it hasnt happened yet.

Julin Aguilar, Quechua narrator in State of Fear

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It’s something like sitting on a train facing backwards – you can see what’s passed by in front of you, but what’s still ahead of the train is behind you. Paco and I spent a week in Lima to holed up in a studio with 4 Quechua speakers from Radio Cultural Amauta, Huanta, Ayacucho, translating Peru’s Truth and Reconciliation Commission, so reconciliation and memory are clearly important ideas throughout the film. In Quechua the word reconcile means “to bury” or “to forget.” And because Quechua dwells very much in the present, when a memory is recalled, it is felt as deeply as if one is experiencing it for the first time.

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I came to have an enormous new appreciation for the beauty and complexity of Quechua—the words with 16 syllables, the warmth of the phrases, and the elocution of the radio announcers, our Andean collaborators who became the different voices of the characters in State of Fear. Imagine Lima lawyer Beatriz Alba Hart speaking Quechua!

Pamela
Pamela Yates
pamela@skylight.is

Pamela Yates is a co-founder of Skylight Pictures and currently the Creative Director of Skylight, a company dedicated to creating feature length documentary films and digital media tools that advance awareness of human rights and the quest for justice by implementing multi-year outreach campaigns designed to engage, educate and activate social change.