“Lost Temple of the Inca” – Film Screening & Conversation

The Inca Empire was a beacon of civilization in the Andes Mountains of South America. Its people had a spiritual relationship to the landscape, worshiping mountains and lakes as gods. After the empire collapsed, its legacy survived in the rarified air of the high mountains. Prolific archeologist Johan Reinhard searched high and low to solve the mysteries of this lost empire. Among his greatest accomplishments was the recovery of three perfectly preserved mummies from the highest archeological site in the world. But one of the Inca’s most important temples evaded him: the lost temple of Ausangate.

In 2011, environmental scientist Preston Sowell discovered ruins and artifacts submerged in Lake Sibinacocha, sixteen thousand feet above sea level, at the headwaters of the Amazon River in Peru. Sowell believes that the ruins within and around the lake could be part of Reinhard’s lost temple, one of the Inca’s most significant ceremonial sites. Subsequently, two high-altitude scuba divers on Sowell’s team went deeper into the lake to explore further, and one was tragically killed. In the wake of this tragedy, Sowell developed a profound obligation to understand and protect the site and its fragile ecosystem.

Despite the high altitude and harsh conditions, Sowell has found wildlife thriving at Lake Sibinacocha, some well above previously known altitudes. In 2017, he even documented the Andean mountain cat in the watershed, the rarest and most endangered cat in the Americas. Sadly, Sibinacocha and its wildlife are under threat from mineral exploitation. Lost Temple of the Inca, directed by Jim Aikman, follows Sowell’s work with a team of archaeologists attempting to reveal the significance of the site, and his personal quest to protect this sacred place and understand the profound impact it has had on his life.

Featuring Preston Sowell. Directed by Jim Aikman. A Q&A with Sowell and Aikman will follow the screening.

Runtime: 52 minutes

Preston Sowell FN’17 is an environmental scientist and consultant, naturalist, photographer, and National Geographic Explorer. He founded the environmental consulting firm Geotic Solutions in 2015 and is Executive Director of the Sibinacocha Watershed Project. When not consulting, Preston uses his scientific and mountaineering expertise to support research expeditions studying high altitude ecosystems, and environmental responses to climate change in the South American Andes. In 2002, he collected amphibian samples that documented the most remote and the highest infections of chytridiomycosis (a pathogenic fungus) in frogs. He has led, supported, and photographed expeditions to 18 countries around the world, including 17 scientific expeditions to remote areas of South America. He lives in Boulder, Colorado. Instagram: @kokosun.

Jim Aikman has directed five feature documentaries, including the award-winning climbing film Jeff Lowe’s Metanoia (2014), as well as one feature narrative and dozens of short documentaries and commercial campaigns for the likes of National Geographic, The North Face, REI and other respected brands. A holder of degrees in Film and English Literature from the University of Michigan, Jim has cultivated an interest in narrative theory and history. He lives in Portland, Oregon. Instagram: @bedrockfilmworks.

Date: Thursday, February 20

Time: 6:00 pm Reception, 7:00pm Screening, with Q&A to follow

Location: Club Headquarters, 46 E 70th Street, New York, NY, 10021

Member Ticket Price: $15

Guest Ticket Price: $30

Student Ticket Price: $5 with a valid academic ID on arrival

Reservation Notes:

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Reservations are allotted on a first-come, first-serve basis. For questions, please contact us at reservations@explorers.org or call us at 212.628.8383.

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