Filmmaker and activist Luis Felipe Degregori from Peru.
© Luis Felipe Degregori
Being a member of Amnesty International gives me support, a sense of belonging and makes me proud to be an activist.
Luis Felipe Degregori
Luis Felipe Degregori, aged 56, is a filmmaker who makes documentaries about some of Peru’s most marginalized people. He tells us what activism means to him.
I was motivated to become an activist when I made a documentary – Peces de Ciudad (Beached) – about young migrants who travel from the mountains in Peru to the capital city, Lima, and live on the periphery of the city in precarious housing.
I lived with these young people for almost a year and was surprised to discover that the most difficult aspect of their lives was not the extreme poverty, but the discrimination they suffered because of their Andean roots, their distinct accent, the colour of their skin and their lack of education.
After this, I worked on other projects promoting equal rights for vulnerable groups, such as films on preventing the spread of HIV/AIDS.
Dealing with discrimination and sexual diversity led me to produce a documentary about one of the most excluded groups in all of Latin America: transgender women. The film, called Translatina, represents various transgender communities throughout the continent and gives them the opportunity to campaign and plead for their rights.
In parallel, I have also been making documentaries about the civil war in Peru that took place between 1980 and 2000.
Being an activist makes me feel useful: I know that what I am doing is making an impact. It has made me stronger and more confident about presenting my ideas, and has also given me a feeling of spiritual peace: I am more at one with myself.
Also, the more you do for others, the more strength and motivation you have to act more. Activism revitalizes you.
The big challenge is the reality of Peru itself. To be an activist means going against embedded social traditions fuelled by the Church or by the state. Peru is a country with a huge disparity of wealth, where people's legal rights have become diluted. This creates confrontation and discrimination between citizens.
Seeing such injustice and inequality, though, gives me strength to continue during the most difficult times. Being a member of Amnesty International gives me support, a sense of belonging and makes me proud to be an activist. I feel as though I have a home base, that I am not alone. It gives me a context. It also makes me proud because Amnesty International is prestigious and because I know what it has achieved in the last 50 years.