To Lourdes you go for health, to Urkupina for wealth. ‘Mary in Times of Crisis’ shows how money and religion go hand in hand at the shrine of the Virgin of Urkupina in Quillacollo, Bolivia. During the whole year pilgrims come to ask for financial help and material goods. They do this not only verbally, but also materialize their requests in the most characteristic ritual of this devotion: hammering stones out of the mountain. The stones are seen as money being lent by the Virgin. We follow three Bolivian women in their activities around the four-day fiesta, when the amount of pilgrims increases dramatically: the two elderly indigenous sisters Virginia and Victoria who earn a living by theatrically selling prayers and blessings to the pilgrims, and the rock-chick Escarlent who comes to Mary in the hope she can keep her bar from going bankrupt. Their paths cross at the pilgrimage shrine.
Born in 1979, Sanne Derks is a Dutch cultural anthropologist/psychologist who has been doing fieldwork in Bolivia since 2001. Her PhD focused on the ways that people deal with social inequalities at the pilgrimage to the Virgin of Urkupina in Bolivia. “Mary in Times of Crisis” is her first film, which she made in collaboration with Sharis Coppens, a Dutch documentary maker and anthropologist.