Film poster for "Sepa, Nuestro Señor De Los Milagros" with men behind wooden bars and two people walking with animal on grassland.
Film poster for "Sepa, Nuestro Señor De Los Milagros" with men behind wooden bars and two people walking with animal on grassland.
The story of a prison without bars forgotten in the Peruvian Amazon


Regular price $129.00


OFFICIAL SELECTION - To Save and Project: The MoMA International Festival of Film Preservation | "A provocative addition to the literature of incarceration." - The New York Times

Experimental Penal Colony in Peru • Prisons • Criminal Justice • Colonization of the Amazon • Rediscovered Archival Film

Date of Completion: 1987 | Run Time: 72 minutes​​ | Language: Spanish, English & German with Spanish, English, German & Italian subtitles | Captions: No | Director: Walter Saxer | Producer: Walter Saxer | DOP: Rainer Klausmann | Editing: Micki Joanni | Music: Jindrich Konir | Sound Mix: Haymo Henry Hayder | Commentary: Mario Vargas Llosa | Camera Assistant: Jorge Vignati Ojeda | Production Manager: Gustavo Cerff Arbulú | Co-Production: Alive Film & TV Production, Zurich

SEPA, NUESTRO SEÑOR DE LOS MILAGROS is the name of an open air penal colony created in 1951 by the Peruvian Government within the national effort to colonize the Amazon territories by promoting agricultural practices amongst inmates in a 37.000 hectares piece of land in the jungles of Central Peru. The 1987 documentary directed by Walter Saxer is the only window into this experimental penal colony in Peru, where no camera has ever entered and little has been written about.

Educational Media Reviews Online | Reviewed by Gisèle Tanasse, University of California Berkeley
"Filled with upbeat Peruvian folk music, dance and cooking, Sepa: Nuestro Señor de los Milagros is highly recommended for courses in Anthropology, Latin American Studies, Incarceration Studies, Documentary Film Studies, Music and Gender Studies."

Video Librarian | Samuel Harwood
"It would be suitable for film studies departments, specifically looking at documentary practice — how documentary filmmakers approach their subjects. It would also be worthwhile for any academic subject to look at the literature on incarceration, also social science, and 20th Century History."

The New York Times | Glenn Kenny
"A provocative addition to the literature of incarceration."

The Last Thing I See
"An engrossing cinematic essay on captivity and detention, Sepa offers a different perspective, a different piece of a larger conversation, and feels pressing and urgent, as much today as in 1986."

The Film Stage | Jaime Grijalba

Boomstick Comics | Bryan Kluger
"Sepa shows that the traditional prison system isn’t working, with its mere existence being a protest. Recommended!"

Backseat Mafia | Rob Aldam
"Lost for decades, the newly restored SEPA: Nuestro Señor de los Milagros is a fascinating insight into a different way of treating felons....a film which is both deeply empathetic and thoroughly engrossing."


"After languishing in a closet for more than three decades, this newly-rediscovered film is a unique documentary record of a bold and troubling experiment in criminal justice."

Il Cinema Ritrovato, Bologna, Italy (World Premiere)
Festival PlayDoc Tui, Galicia, Spain (Spain Premiere)
Festival Corrientes, Arequipa Peru
To Save and Project: The MoMA International Festival of Film Preservation (North American Premiere)
Festival de Lima, Lima, Peru (Peruvian Premiere)
Frontera Sur Festival, Chile 

Metrograph (North American Theatrical Release)
American Cinematheque (Theatrical)
CCAAA 2022 World Day for Audiovisual Heritage, Sala Azul, Lima

Walter Saxer is a Swiss Film Producer who began his film career in the late 60’s when, in Lanzarote, he met the young German director Werner Herzog who had chosen the spanish island to shoot his second feature Even Dwarfs Started Small”. Walter, 20 at the time, helped the production without having ever worked in a film before and became captured by the challenge of making the “impossible” happen. Walter then moved to Germany where he quickly became acquainted with writers, poets, filmmakers who were part of the German New Cinema wave like Herbert Achternbusch, Reiner Fassbinder and of course Werner Herzog, with whom he collaborated for most of his career. Walter eventually took a leading role in the production of iconic films like “Aguirre The Wrath Of God and “Fitzcarraldo”. It is during the making of Fitzcarraldo that Walter gets to know the penal colony “Sepa Nuestro Señor de los Milagros”. The colony was a mandatory checkpoint before traveling to the Camisea location in Central Peru, where the steamboat was moved over the mountain. After the completion of the almost insurmountable feature film, Walter decides to return to the Amazon to document the surreal open air penal colony that had captured his heart and imagination. The documentary Sepa was put aside when other projects came to the forefront. After spending his life between Germany and Italy, Walter, in the mid 90’s decided to make the Peruvian Amazon his home. Today he lives in the city of Iquitos where he manages a small hotel “La Casa Fitzcarraldo hidden in a luscious garden product of his relentless fight against the deforestation that is destroying the jungles he once feel in love with.
Micaela Saxer was born in Iquitos, Peru, on the legendary set of Werner Herzog's "Fitzcarraldo" (1982). In the 2000s Micaela worked for casting director Shaila Rubin in Rome. During that time she collaborated with Mrs. Rubin on productions such as: The Talented Mr. Ripley (Anthony Minghella), Mr. and Mrs. Smith (Doug Liman), Titus (Judy Tamor), Hannibal (Ridley Scott), The Passion of the Christ (Mel Gibson), La Vitaè bella (R. Benigni). After Rubin's death in 2006, Micaela decided to leave Rome and the film industry and take a year off in her birthplace: Iquitos, Peru. In 2007 she opened the Hotel - Restaurant "La Casa Fitzcarraldo" in the building where the production of "Fitzcarraldo" was housed between 1977 to 1982.

Micaela now lives between New York and Iquitos, where she works in independent film production. She has frequently collaborated as an associate producer with Nadia Szold's Cinema Imperfecta production company, Quentin Andre's Junk Productions, Pressman Films and recently with Radical Media in NYC. In the city of Iquitos, Micaela founded the production company Yacumama Films E.i.r.l. In 2019 she won the DAFO 2019 award for the Conservation of Audiovisual Works with the project "Sepa, Nuestro Señor de los Milagros". This documentary directed by her father Walter Saxer in 198, is the only audiovisual document about the Sepa penal colony.

Currently, Micaela is developing a documentary project “Down By These Rivers - Gloria” about the relationship between mother and daughter, focusing the camera on her own mother and maternal grandmother, both from the Peruvian Amazon. The project is co-produced with Felicitas Raffo's Argentinian production company CEPA Cine.

Micaela's most ambitious project is to transform "La Casa Fitzcarraldo" into a unique audiovisual creation and education center in the city of Iquitos. The objective of this project is to promote intercultural dialogue between Amazonia and the world through the use of film. Being the daughter of a Peruvian woman and a Swiss man, Micaela focuses all her work searching for dialogue between cultures, unpacking the difficult knots created by colonialism still very present today. Micaela believes that film can help heal ancient wounds through the use of the power of narrative.