Filming Adventure: Angels and Demons of Cuenca
We were immediately surprised by the city of Cuenca in Ecuador, by its colonial architecture, by its clean and colorful streets, its lively central square. You have to understand that Cuenca is a very conservative city, but we have discovered a secret corner there that I am revealing to you ...
A little history of Cuenca and an extraordinary dinner
When we arrive at our hostel, our host Tony explains the customs and traditions of the city to us. Extremely Catholic, Cuenca has 45 churches for around 50,000 inhabitants! If the family has two daughters, the older can marry, but the younger is not allowed. It is his duty to stay at home all his life to take care of his parents until the end of their life. Boys are obviously not subject to this tradition. It gives us a bit of the mood of the place, but honestly looking down the street from the terrace, what we see is tinged with modernity and that surprises us a little. At the same time, the system certainly does not allow the elderly to be sent to centers as we do a little cruelly. For or against ... that remains to be determined, but we are certainly not here to judge and change their way of life. In short, he ends the little lesson by showing us on a map the most touristic activities. Probably sensing our gender, he tells us that the Cultural Center of Prohibition would surely interest us, but insisting that the locals really do not encourage this place. Which obviously puts us on the alert, we agree to go take a look the next day ... Tony invites us to participate in the 5-course dinner he organizes each evening to socialize with the other backpackers from the hostel, which we gladly accept. The food was excellent and we had fun participating in the game he offered us: we have 15 minutes to get to know our neighbor on the left (so in all 30 minutes to allow everyone to be able to question their neighbor on the left! ) then, each in turn, we must present to the group this famous neighbor on the left! Really, it was interesting to see what our right arm took away from what we were telling him. Obviously, Tony encourages us from the start of dinner not to sit next to people you already know!
Shrunken heads and Panama hats
We had a busy day of filming as usual. With Tony's guidance, it was easy to make a short daytime itinerary. First stop: the Pumapungo museum, because we had heard the rumor that they held the only real shrunken heads in South America (so there yes you understand well or maybe not, they are real shrunken human heads)! We could not miss filming this, especially when we knew that our stay at the head reducers was approaching quickly ... unfortunately! We are clearly told that we are not allowed to film indoors! We thought we would go and see anyway ... the museum is full of relevant information, but we really had no head for that (sorry for the pun, too easy! Hahaha!)! All we wanted to see was the shrunken heads ... I apologize in advance, I didn't respect the rules, I hope that if one day they find out that they don't won't want too much ... Really something to see, it was amazing.
Learn more about shrunken heads and the Shuar civilization by renting my feature film about South America, AURORA! All profits will be used to finance the next shoot on the Black Sea tour in Europe.
Continuing on our way, I knew from my research that Cuenca and its neighboring towns specialized in the creation of the famous Panama hat! No, this hat is not from Panama! They actually called it that because by building the Panama Canal, this model had really become fashionable, all men wore it. There are several chapelleries in the city but we visited the most popular and the biggest, the "Barrancos Panama Hat Museum". They obviously make the hats on site but in front of the audience it was interesting to see the process. We had a lot of fun trying on all kinds of hats!
The Cultural Center of Prohibition
Our day ended with this museum which the inhabitants of Cuenca did not really approve of! We are already impressed by the exterior, which has a somewhat satanic artistic touch and at the same time colorful. A lady of the house, Martha, charges us the modest sum of $ 3 at the entrance, and invites us to explore as we want. I'm going to say it in my good Quebecois, we were going crazy! The museum is in fact an interactive work of art. Right at the entrance there is a guillotine where you can put the head and a gigantic throne encrusted with handmade skulls, tons of monstrous and evil masks. In the center of the square, a stage: we remember that it is a cultural center (we learn later that they organize shows and plays). We walk between alien sculptures, heads with sewn-on mouths, unknown monsters, gnomes, Satan, Jesus holding a split cross, paintings illustrating obscenities ... the museum even extends below the ground : we open hatches, and in one of them, there is a tomb placed at our disposal to lie down; in the other, a catacomb where Machiavellian dolls look at you strangely, in the next one is a chest of exceptional beauty, adorned with an imp, which we did not have the courage to open (opened there are other holes covered with a grid, where we can see a doll of a decapitated baby, others of aliens ... in addition, and the icing on the sundae as they say, the upstairs tattoo studio! My memory is failing me a little as there were so many works! It's truly magnificent and at the same time, all this art digs into a part of you that makes you vulnerable, you marvel and frighten you ... we understood why the locals disapproved of this place a little. But we are not locals! We are all the more curious to speak with the person (or people?) Who created this absolutely extraordinary place! There is a small bar where they offer microbrewery beer (we couldn't believe it in Ecuador!), We decided to sit there and start the investigation! Martha and Eduardo, owners of the place, are more than happy to hear that we want to know more. They are indeed the ones who created all of this. We connect immediately, and they even invite us to dinner with their two sons, Franco and Kuap! It was without a doubt the most exceptional meeting of the shoot ... we were supposed to stay only 2 days in Cuenca ... we stayed there 4 days! Most of the time with this artist family. They explained to us how it was quite a challenge to realize a project like this one in such a conservative city! But they never despaired, despite all the challenges! We found it to be very inspiring. An unforgettable exchange, engraved on our skin (Yes, we got a tattoo!). We even concocted a poutine for them with the means of the bar! Be sure to say hello to them from us when you go to meet them ...
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To follow ... our journey in the Ecuadorian Amazon rainforest with the ancestors of the head-reducer civilization, the Shuars! ↬Share to someone who loves to travel ... ✈🌍💛 Mimi Tremblay Filmmaker entrepreneur On Instagram | Facebook | Youtube @Filmsoiseaudenuit Films Oiseau de nuit is an audiovisual NPO based in Bromont, Quebec, Canada, since 2015. ↠Our Challenge: 10 travel films around the world. ↠ Our Mission: To create a community of fulfilled and passionate people who advocate the discovery of oneself and others for a more open and peaceful world.
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It is not a shrunken head! Mike found out he slept next to a real human skull when our new friends invited us to sleep on our last night in Cuenca! Cameron slept in the coffin where there had been a real death in it ... and me well, I slept normally on a mattress hahaha!