Price: $210.00

    Code: 2280

    Directed by Alejandro Landes
    2007, 97 minutes
    Purchase: $210 | Classroom Rental: $125

    In 2006, Evo Morales, an Aymara Indian, became the first indigenous president of Bolivia - winning the election with the largest majority in the country's history. Cocalero is a captivating portrait of this controversial figure and his astonishing rise to power.

    In recent years, the U.S. government, working with Bolivian authorities, has attempted to stem the flow of cocaine from Bolivia by eradicating the country's coca crop - essentially directing its devastating war on drugs against the country's indigenous farmers. To protect their livelihood, the farmers formed a union and elected as their leader, an unknown, unwavering, and unpretentious socialist named Evo Morales.

    A story of geopolitics, people's movements, Indigenous culture, and one man's impressive determination, Cocalero chronicles Morales' historic presidential campaign, getting up close and personal with the candidate and the union organization backing him. As the film shows, what makes Morales so fascinating is how unlikely a candidate he is. A relaxed 40-something bachelor who wears blue jeans and sneakers, lives in a one-room house, drinks beer with his friends, and goes swimming in his underwear. Yet he is able to move effortlessly from the coca plantations of his youth to formal fundraising dinners to mass rallies, all the while charismatically proposing the redistribution of wealth, renationalization of industries, and the legalization of coca products.

    Not surprisingly, Morales' populist platform elicits strong responses. After he addresses Venezuela's Hugo Chavez as "commandante," Bolivian TV questions whether he is on Chavez's payroll. In the cities, far from his core constituency, he must weather racial insults and epithets. But on January 22, 2006, to the surprise of many, Morales was sworn in as Bolivia's 80th President, the first indigenous head of state since the Spanish Conquest over 500 years ago - and only the third indigenous leader in Latin American history.

    Subjects & Collections

    Festivals & Awards

    * Official Selection, Sundance Film Festival, 2007
    * Official Selection, Human Rights Watch Film Festival, 2007


    “An outstanding selection of the 2007 Human Rights Watch Film Festival, Alejandro Landes’s Cocalero follows the rise of President Evo Morales of Bolivia, a grass-roots politician backed by impoverished coca farmers threatened by the American war on drugs.” – Stephen Holden, The New York Times

    [Three-and-a-half stars] "Students of Latin American studies will learn much from Alejandro Landes’ documentary…. Cocalero presents a jolting view of a new left-wing political movement that is openly questioning U.S. dominance over the Americas. Highly Recommended.” - Video Librarian

    “A luminous portrait... An impressionistic documentary melding the everyday moments of human interaction that build to mass movement formation and social change.” – Prarie Miller, WBAI

    "In the midst of this consultant-polished election season, Alejandro Landes's inside look at Evo Morales's successful 2005 run for the Bolivian presidency is both refreshing and just plain fun." - Village Voice

    "In the vivid and fluently shot Cocalero, Brazilian-born documentarian Alejandro Landes and Venezuelan-Spanish cameraman Jorge Manrique Behrens tag along as the dynamic yet accessible populist wages his 2006 electoral campaign from the storm-clouded mountains of Cochabamba to the steamy forests of El Chapare…. Top quality visuals convey Morales’ supporters' energy and the movement’s optimism, right up to a crossroads moment as Evo locks arms with Fidel and an especially exuberant Hugo Chavez.” – Slant Magazine

    “A must-have for any serious Latin American or doc-themed fest.” – Variety