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Mamani in El Alto

GER 2022, 95 min

Photography and beyond – Part 35. The film shows numerous choletts of the Bolivian civil engineer, architect and founder of neo-Andean architecture Freddy Mamani Silvestre.


The civil engineer and architect Freddy Mamani Silvestre (*1971), has designed more than 60 building projects in the Bolivian city of El Alto since 2008, which mock the norms of a formulaic modern architecture shaped and enforced with global aspirations by the Bauhaus.
Mamani comes from a humble background and belongs to the Aymara people. His self-taught architecture is a counter-utopia that grew out of local usages and opens up a view of preferences other than sparseness and global stylistic adherence.
The film shows many of the “cholets” he built with their magnificent ballrooms in their urban setting. Mamani became the founder of neo-Andean architecture.

The filming took place in August 2021 in Bolivia.


Festivals /  Premieres
- World premiere: DOK Leipzig Festival - Camera Lucida section (10/20/22)
- Austria premiere: Viennale (10/27/22)
- Argentina premiere: Mar del Plata (11/07/22)
- Berlin Premiere: Akademie der Künste (AdK) (01/14/23)


Press reviews

As a pioneer of Neo-Andean architecture, Freddy Mamani Silvestre attracts attention far beyond the borders of Bolivia. His non-conformist designs are influenced by the culture of the Aymara, the biggest ethnical group in the country, echoing their myths and patterns. Buildings constructed between 2008 and 2021 are circled, inspected and captured, in part 35 of the ongoing series “Photography and beyond”.
Like giant jewels, the Cholets rise into the sky above the Bolivian city of El Alto, at 4,000 metres above sea level. Cholets, a neologism created from chalet and Cholo, the local term for indigenous people, are the creations of architect Freddy Mamani Silvestre, born in 1971. Several dozen buildings designed by him adorn the otherwise fairly unglamorous city otherwise mainly dominated by raw red brick. Mamani’s built fantasies, on the other hand, are striking, arrogant and bold. Snakes seem to be slithering up their facades, scattered diamonds cling to the glazing and occasionally the whole thing is crowned by a stand-alone residential building. But the Cholets are mainly used for festivities, because they house the so-called “salones de eventos”. Emigholz unlocks psychoactive places that evoke the interior of pinball machines and, in their confident splendour, triumph over the richer neighbouring city of La Paz. — Carolin Weidner, DOK Leipzig 2022

Awards and Festivals

- DOK Leibzig
- Viennale
- IFF Mar del Plata


Director and Screenplay
Heinz Emigholz
Heinz Emigholz, Till Beckmann
Local Management Bolivia
Angel Cordero
General Assistance Bolivia
Konrad Schlaich
Original Sound Recording
Ueli Etter
Music Pieces
Andreas Reihse
Till Beckmann, Heinz Emigholz
Sound Design and Mixing
Christian Obermaier, Jochen Jezussek
Till Beckmann
Production Assistant
Anna Bitter, Viviana Kammel
Frieder Schlaich, Irene von Alberti
Filmgalerie 451

Thanks to Freddy Mamani Silvestre, Arno Brandlhuber, Rene Callisaya, Alejandro Chino, Victor Choque, Angel Cordero, Marcelo Guardia Crespo, Lidia Rojas, Rene Rojas and all other Cholet Owners


Included on Disc 2 of the DVD!
Disc 1: SLAUGHTERHOUSES OF MODERNITY (GER 2022, 80 min), Interview with the Bolivian architect Freddy Mamani
Disc 2: MAMANI IN EL ALTO (Heinz Emigholz, GER 2022, ca. 95 min.), SALAMONE, PAMPA (Heinz Emigholz, GER 2022, ca. 62 min.), Booklet with a text by Heinz Emigholz about the three films (German / English)
German, English
German, English, French
Country Code
PAL, Color 
237 min
Aspect Ratio
Sound Format
Dolby Digital 2.0 + 5.1
Set Content
Softbox (Set Content: 2)
Release Date
Rating (FSK - DE)
From 12 Years

Distribution Details

Screening Format
DCP (4k, Color, 5.1)
Aspect Ratio
No dialogue
Promotion Material
License Area
Info-Programm gemäß §14 JuSchG