Following its successful participation at the IDFA, Full Frame, San Francisco, and Camden film festivals, Mike Plunkett’s Salero will have its New York premiere as part of the Margaret Mead Film Festival, running October 13-16 at the American Museum of Natural History. The film, produced by Cinereach with support from The MacArthur Foundation, Tribeca Film Institute, San Francisco Film Society, and NYSCA, was the winner of the Best Documentary and Director awards at the RiverRun International Film Festival in Winston-Salem, NC.
The earth’s largest salt flat, Bolivia’s Salar de Uyuni, is an otherworldly expanse of white. For generations, its only signs of life have been the saleros who harvest salt from its radiant surface. In the film Salero, we see this secluded region thrust into the future when Bolivia embarks on a plan to extract a precious mineral from the Salar and build an infrastructure that will connect it to the modernized world. What follows is a poetic journey through the eyes of Moises Chambi Yucra, one of the last remaining salt gatherers, whose story explores how identity is formed by both tradition and progress.
Salt is precious to Moises, but it is the Salar’s untapped lithium reserve that is predicted to make Bolivia “the Saudi Arabia of the 21st century.” This film comes during tremendous change in Bolivia, and captures the precise, historic, moment when its famous Salar, one of the world’s most remote places, transformed into a player in the global economy.
In the film, Bolivia's first indigenous president, Evo Morales, launches a plan to build a lithium industry without interference from other nations, pledging an end to resource exploitation by foreigners. The first step by the government-run Corporación Minera de Bolivia (COMIBOL) is to build a pilot lithium extraction operation, which we see develop from dream to reality. In this complex economic and political climate, and with the stunningly cinematic Salar as its setting, Salero is an immersive personal encounter with destiny rewritten.