The River of the Kukamas

(El Río de los Kukamas)



English: Being born from the Spirit of the river, Kukama people have a special connection with the water. The river shrinks and grows throughout the year, affecting the lives of its citizens. Filmed at its widest state at the end of the rain season, we learn the cosmology of this disappearing culture in Peru.

Español: Nacidos del espíritu del río, los Kukama tienen una conexion especial con el agua. El río se encoge y crece a lo largo del año, afectando la vida de sus ciudadanos. Filmado en su estado más amplio al final de la temporada de lluvias, nos enteramos de los retos que enfrentan las personas de Kukama hoy.

Latest news:​​​​​​

  • April 10-15, 2021 screening at ARTSxSDGC festival, USA

  • Film is available online to Russia and Eastern Europe through

  • 45 film festivals in over 20 countries!

Awards and Recognition

  • Best International Short Film at FINCA, Argentina

  • Best Cinematography Award at the 23rd Ecological "To Save and Preserve" film festival, Russia

  • Honorable Mention at the 60th Rochester International Film Festival

  • Honorable Mention at the Festival de Cine Verde de Barichara, Colombia


  • Genre: documentary, indigenous, female filmmaker, environmental, young audiences

  • Film by: Nika Belianina

  • Year:  2018 

  • Length: 07:16

  • Country of production: Peru

  • Language: Spanish, Kukama, with English subtitles

  • Produced by: Write.Right Films 

  • For more info please contact write.right @


History of the film

The director was invited to spend a month in the house of Yrapakatun Association along with 10 other artists from around the world - in a small village 40 km of Iquitos, the biggest city in the world not accessible by roads. It was the first ever artist residence program in Peru. With no running water, overcrowded work space, intense humidity and very limited translation services, Belianina’s equipment decided to break down. Originally set to make a completely different film, but facing immense pressure due to loss of the new equipment by Peruvian customs and an overall unnecessary stressful environment at the residency, she turned the remaining gear onto the water and, being a one-woman team, found calmness through creation of “The River of the Kukamas”.

For the world premiere at Tribeca in 2018, Nika brought the main narrator of the film and preserver of Kukama culture Pablo Pinedo to New York. This was his first ever trip outside of his homeland, and a rare trip outside of his village. It turned into an unforgettable experience for both of them, as Pablo navigated an intimidating subway system and tried new food every day. This trip gained him respect back in his community. Since then Pablo visited Miami and New Jersey on a tourist promo tour for Loreto region of Peru and became a certified Kukama translator and educator for his local government. His village in Santo Tomas now has Kukama school classes, ensuring the continuation of the ancient language along with all the knowledge it has to offer.

The film reminds us of the intricate relationships humans establish with the land and water. It includes deep understanding of its resources, collected throughout the centuries.

Follow on             @riverofthekukamas

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Past screenings

© 2021  by Nika Belianina

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