Thursday, August 6, 2020
‘Gaucho del Norte’ Features Dramatic Scenery in Story of Idaho Sheepherder
“Gaucho del Norte” has appeared in several film festivals, including the Sun Valley Film Festival, Big Sky Documentary Film Festival, American Documentary Film Festival and New York’s Socially Relevant Film Festival.
Tuesday, October 9, 2018


Eraldo Pacheco can see the snowcapped mountains of Patagonia rising up behind a crystal clear blue lake from his family’s home in Chile.

It looks idyllic. But one day he tells his father, “Things are worse here than ever.”

And with that the Chilean sheepherder leaves his hometown of Bahia Murta, population 587, to travel 6,000 miles to herd sheep in the rugged high desert of Idaho.

Filmmaker Stanzin Dorjai-Gya will be back to present his movie “The Shepherdess of the Glacier.”

“Out here it is not about whether you are physically strong,” he recounts. “What you need is to endure loneliness.”

Filmmakers Andres Caballero and Sofian Khan captured Pacheco’s journey—and the emotional struggles he deals with so far away from his elderly parents and family--in the film “Gaucho del Norte.”

And they will show it at 7 p.m. Friday, Oct. 12, at the Sun Valley Opera House as part of the 2018 Trailing of the Sheep Festival. (Admission is $20.)

The father-son team of Robert and Blake Ball, who run more than 7,000 ewes out of their ranch in the eastern Idaho town of Hamer, will field questions following the film. And Nevada rancher and photographer Carolyn Dufurrena will screen her short film, “Sheepherders with Cell Phones,” which premiered at the National Cowboy Poetry Gathering.

Caballeros became interested in making the film when he met a former Chilean sheepherder who told him about working in the United States.

“I thought it would be a good opportunity to take on the topic of immigration through a lens that is less political and more observational,” he said. “I wanted to capture the immigrant spirit through a cinematic approach.”

Caballero and Khan traveled to South America where they found Eraldo. They shot the Idaho portion of the footage in the desert near the Teton Mountain during winter and in the mountains near Soda Springs during summer.

Caballero said he learned that sometimes in order to better understand what’s happening around a political issue, more attention needs to be paid to history, human behavior, the needs of people around us and the needs of those in other countries.

“Witnessing parts of Eraldo’s journey as a sheepherder, I realized the crucial role guest workers like him play in the wellbeing of American families and with the same family-driven values of the Idaho rancher who hired him,” he said. “The co-dependence is real and that compassion and understanding should extend beyond the legal status of immigrants who play other key roles in the lives of Americans.”


The “Shepherdess of the Glacier,” which won Grand Prize at the 2016 Banff Mountain Film Festival, is returning for an encore presentation at this year’s Trailing of the Sheep Festival.

The film was shown at the 2017 festival but so many people were turned away that festival organizers brought it back for an encore performance.

Filmmaker Stanzin Dorjai-Gya will field questions following the film, which will be screened at 7 p.m. Thursday, Oct. 11, at the Sun Valley Community School (admission $20).

Dorjai-Gya  spent three years filming his sister Tsering in temperatures that sometimes dropped as low as minus-30 Celsius as she herded long-haired sheep with curvy horns and Pashmina goats—the source of luxurious cashmere fiber—in India’s 14,000-foot Himalayan Mountains.

The film shows how she washes baby goats in glacier-fed rivers and tucks baby lambs into pockets of a burlap bag, slinging the bag like a saddle blanket over one of her animals as she moves her herds. And it shows how she uses her transistor radio for companionship, turning it up when snow leopards venture too close.

“When the radio stops,” she says, I feel as if I’ve lost someone.”


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