Alan Stivelman has created a film that shows a new way to examine the UFO subject and more importantly, the witness. Witness of Another World tells the story of Juan Pérez, an Argentinian gaucho who in 1978 at the age of 12, saw something for which he had no concept or explanation, and which continued to disturb him for the next 40 years. Stivelman contacted Pérez and began to delve into his story and his life, in a simple effort to understand what had happened and more importantly, to attempt to help Pérez in some way. The film was the result.
In contrast with most UFO films and documentaries which treat the sighting or encounter as the main subject, Stivelman decided to concentrate on the experience of the witness and how his life was turned inside out. Pérez, who described his encounter as “neither beautiful nor ugly,” was ostracized from his family and community as a result of his experience. He experienced nightmares regularly and retreated to a remote farm to live alone with his issues.
In our interview (Miguel Romero joined me as co-host) Stivelman describes what happened to Pérez, with many glimpses of issues that were either too complicated or left out of the film in the interest of telling the story or for privacy concerns at the time. What emerges is a story of someone who was unwillingly transformed into a man with gifts normally associated with a shamanic individual. Stivelman (along with Jacques Vallée, who appears prominently in the film, and who investigated the case in 1980) spoke at length with Pérez, letting him tell his story in his way. What emerged was essentially interpreted as an initiatory experience by the indigenous Guaraní people of Argentina and Peru, whom Stivelman contacted and arranged for Pérez to visit. The encounter provided him with a perspective from his ancestral roots and transformed him into a person who is more at peace with his sighting and who he has become.