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Iconic lithograph of the Patecte (1921)


Welcome to the ground floor — to the commotion of the new.

I am Tom Warson, producer and screenwriter of “The Search for The Lost Gold Patecte of Ecuador.” I want to personally invite you to go on a real-life treasure hunt. You will find our story deeply inspiring; its end, absolutely new. The never-before-seen.

The gold Patecte is more than a piece of metal. Our search is a quest for identity. 

And for justice where it starts — the economy.

Logline and Synopsis

An investigative team goes in search of an enchanting and historic pre-Columbian treasure.

Chordeleg.  Home of the Patecte

Chordeleg, Ecuador, 1869. A treasure hunter discovers an ancient royal tomb. Its riches include a mysterious gold relief — the Patecte.

Suddenly, the Patecte vanished.

Stolen? Hoarded?

Destroyed for its gold content?

Mislaid in a museum? Lost at sea?

The only hard proof the Patecte existed is an oil painting commissioned by Heduvides Serrano, the legendary tomb raider who discovered the Patecte.

The rest of the story is paved with double and triple-bottomed boxes.

An El Dorado fable? – or did the Patecte not only exist but exists today? Our team searches for the answer in seven countries on three continents.

During the quest, historians, archaeologists, psychoanalysts and other experts decipher the Patecte´s hidden, universal message.

The Beginning

The Western world views pre-Columbian art as exotic, hence marginal — an assortment of curios.  I wish the problem ended there, but it doesn´t…

The marginalization of Latin American culture is part of the marginalization of Latin America in general.  That marginalization is creating and maintaining economic underdevelopment in the region and the concomitant illegal immigration crisis in the United States.

Estimated at 3% of that country’s population, illegal immigrants form an excess pool of cheap labor that lowers wages. 

Result:  undocumented workers in search of a better life are not the only people hurt.

The solution is well known — not a wall but to develop Latin America economically.

Most likely, decades of failure have convinced you that solution is impossible.  However, the facts speak otherwise.

Ecuador offers a compelling local success story of community empowerment and the conquest of poverty.

Salinas de Guaranda, Ecuador

In 1970, the village of Salinas de Guaranda had an 85% illiteracy rate and a 45% infant mortality rate.  Today, without oil or other valuable natural resources, Salinas is a prospering community.

An Italian priest, Antonio Polo, turned the village around.  He saw something latent and made it manifest. 

That something was what the locals call “esfuerzo comunitario.”  Community effort.

Salinas created an organization-production-commercialization-savings model built on “esfuerzo.”  It is a vestige of pre-Columbian America.

Anthonio Polo

The Patecte is 100% a creation of that ancient world.  It resonates and can galvanize community effort where it matters — not political speeches or academic treatises, but in the unconscious.

Serpent, bird, cat:  all three are universal dream motifs.  What do they mean separately and together?  Our experts decipher the Patecte´s symbolically-veiled message known as the “Andean Triad” found in pre-Inca civilizations, e.g., Cañari, Tiahuanaco and Wari.

Clearly, extremely powerful psychological forces are at work.  That is what gives the Patecte an impact and actuality which conventional anti-poverty measures — notably foreign aid — lack. 

In a nutshell:  our documentary challenges the marginalization of Latin America and the socioeconomic and ideological structures that sustain it with an ageless question:

Can a work of art do something?

We think so.  In fact, we know so.  But we need your help.

The Lost Gold Patecte:  A Personal Testimony — Tom Warson

I am often asked what sparked my nine-year quest.

I first saw an image of the Patecte in 2011, in a book by Dr. Juan Cordero Íñiguez, one of South America´s foremost historians and a member of our Patecte search team.

I was reading along, turned a page and, well…

My reaction was instantaneous.  The Patecte image did what all great art does:  stir the unconscious.

Bird, serpent, feline:  in the psychological and cultural profundity of its symbols and sheer creativity, the Patecte merits international recognition.  Of course the reality is, outside Ecuador, nobody has heard of the Patecte.

My initial motivation for making the documentary is to change that situation.

The Patecte is a Rosetta Stone of archetypes for deciphering the identity of Latin America — and beyond.  It is a masterpiece that belongs to the cultural heritage of humanity.

Creative Personnel

(i)  Tom Warson, producer and scriptwriter of “The Search for The Lost Gold Patecte of Ecuador,” is a former independent political consultant to senators, representatives, governors, mayors, city counselors and the media.  He worked for electoral campaigns on all levels; for federal, state and local governments; and for all three branches.  An accredited expert witness in Federal Court, he holds a Ph.D. in political science and M.A. in Latin American Studies from the University of Florida.  His B.A. in political science is from Antioch College.  He is fluent in English and Spanish.

During decades of consulting, Tom became aware that his primary interest in politics and court proceedings was their drama.  The product of two decades of research and writing, his screenplay “Pillars of The Sea” won awards in the International Film Festivals of Amsterdam, Mexico and Barcelona.

Since 2011, Tom has resided in Cuenca, Ecuador, researching the Patecte and organizing the documentary. 

(ii)  Our director, Carlo Fusco, is a film director, producer and screenwriter. He was born in Potenza, a small town in southern Italy, in a working-class family. He graduated in economics and moved to Rome where he worked in theater and cinema. His teachers were Franz Muller, Dominic d’Alexandria, Silvano Agosti and the international director Knut Erik Jensen. During that time, he worked for large companies in film production and distribution.


At only 33 years old, Carlo produced “Sins Expiation“ (2012), an action movie in which he directed Michael Madsen, Danny Glover, John Savage, Steven Bauer, Anne Jeffreys and Hal Yamanouchi. The film won Best Film and Best Director prizes at the Mendocino International Film Festival, 2011.  Some of Carlo´s movies, e.g., “The Slider,” explore deep psychological themes.

For his complete filmography, visit his IMDb page.

(iii) Our director of photography is Carlos Diazmuñoz.  He is currently President of the Mexican Cinematographer Society (AMC).

Carlos began his career in the film industry when he was six years old, as an actor.  He continued acting for six years while growing up with his American mother who worked as an actress and his Spanish/Mexican father who was a director and cinematographer.  Carlos lived in the United States and Mexico, and is fluent in English and Spanish.

His professional education and training at working behind the camera started when he was 20 years old in 1985, as Assistant Cameraman working with internationally recognized cinematographers including his father, AMC, CSC and ASC members. He participated as Assistant Cameraman in over 500 productions in only five years.

Since 1989, he has become recognized as a cinematographer who is extremely meticulous.  He specializes in narrative feature films, visual effects, aerial cinematography, people features, music videos, documentaries and advertising.  Overall, Carlos has participated in more than 2,000 productions.

For more information, including a long list of awards, visit his web page:

(iv) Joshua King Ortiz is our editor.  Originally from Spain, Joshua went to film school in Madrid where he graduated in Film Editing in 2002. He next attended the University of California Santa Barbara, where he received a B.A. in History. Joshua has edited five feature documentaries as well as numerous promos, trailers, music videos, and short films. He is fluent in English and Spanish.

For samples of his work, go to:

Principal advisers/consultants:

Museo de las Culturas Aborígenes, Cuenca, Ecuador

*Dr. Juan Cordero Íñiguez, historian, lawyer and Director of the Museum of Aboriginal Cultures in Cuenca, Ecuador.

*Juan Chacón, historian, paleographer and author of “Guacha Opari Pampa,” a book that analyzes the Patecte from a Cañari Native perspective.

*Dr. Benigno Malo, lawyer, editor of The Anthropological Journal and author of the book “The pre-Columbian Treasure of Sígsig.”

*Dr. Jaime Idrovo, Sorbonne-trained archaeologist.

*René López Moreno, historian.

*Marlene Ullauri, archivist.

*Anne Laurain, psychoanalyst and graduate of the C.G. Jung Institute in Zurich/Küsnacht, Switzerland.

*Patricio Pessantez, lawyer.

*Hernán Cabrera, Director, Archaeological Museum of Chobshi.

*Mario Brazzero, anthropologist, University of Azuay.

*Oscar Gustavo Vintimilla, cinema professor (celluloid and digital), University of Azuay.


Our final goal is $700,000.  All funds contributed to Fund My Film will go toward the following projects:

(1) How old is the Patecte?

Our archaeologists will use a drone and ground penetrating radar to locate pre-Columbian tombs in the  Chordeleg area.  Biological material —  mainly textiles and wood — will be sent to a laboratory for Carbon 14-dating.  The age of the Patecte will be inferred.  Due to its cost — $97,000 — scientific dating has never been performed of Chordeleg tombs.

(2) Heduvides Serrano was the legendary tomb raider who discovered the Patecte in 1869.  Two volunteers and I exhausted readily-available church records on the man behind the myth.  We still lack basic information, e.g., when and where Heduvides was born, died.   Cost of three months of research:  $10,000.


Heduvides´ and Manuela Serrano´s marriage certificate,1847.  El Sagrario, Cuenca, Ecuador.

(3)  Musée de l´Homme in Paris, France?  The British Museum, London, England?  Fuenf-Kontinente Museum, Munich, Germany?  The Patecte has long been rumored in academic circles to be in a European museum.  The specific museum has never been identified.

To solve the European connection mystery, our script calls for two weeks in France, Germany and England for interviews with museum directors, art historians, collectors and other experts.  Cost:  $25,000.


A gold pre-Columbian crown from Chordeleg-Sígsig was gifted by Ecuadorian President García Moreno to Queen Victoria in 1862. It is housed in the Royal Trust, London.


(4)  Produce a trailer and teaser.  $17,000.

(5)  Create an expertly-produced video for a crowdfunding campaign.  $15,000.

(6)  Commission professional design work.  $5,000.

The Face of El Dorado

The Myth of The Great American Novel persists despite the fact that novel was written:  The Adventures of Tom Sawyer by Mark Twain. 

Similarly, The Myth of El Dorado persists despite the fact El Dorado was discovered.

Fantastic quantities of New World gold came not from a secret city but the Santa Barbara River and nearby tombs of pre-Columbian Cañari royalty and priests in the Chordeleg area.  Over the centuries, tons of precious metals were dug up and melted down.  550 kilos of gold — today´s value $34 million — were attributed to a single tomb raider – Heduvides Serrano, who discovered the Patecte.  

Only a minuscule number of Cañari relics escaped the melting pot.

Despite the facts, The Myth of El Dorado persists because myths operate before, outside of, beyond, more than rationality.  As with music, via myths we enter another sphere:  the architecture of emotions.

Icon, definition:  a word or graphic symbol whose form suggests its meaning.  An icon represents, i.e., re-presents — presents over again — its absent signifier.  Our documentary shows why the Patecte is historically, culturally and psychologically the consummate El Dorado icon.

Santa Barbara River near Chordeleg — source of countless dreams over untold centuries.  Among the dreamers were Heduvides and his brother Ignacio who came to pan for gold in 1858.


Fund Raising Strategy

Our financial plan of action consists of three phases:

(i)  This ground floor on Fund My Film seeks funds to help pay essential startup costs.  Specific projects are given above.  

(ii)  Obtain donations from public and private foundations.  This phase began in September 2020, when the 501c “From The Heart” became our fiscal sponsor.  A 501c fiscal sponsor is a not for profit organization that manages a documentary´s money.  Most funding institutions will not donate to a film project without a fiscal sponsor attached.  Also, with a 501c, all contributions become tax deductible.

(ii)  Crowdfunding.

Three documentary crowdfunding campaigns on Kickstarter raised more funds than we are seeking.  It must be noted, however, that (i) unlike the Patecte, their subjects were well known internationally.  (ii) Their Kickstarter presentations were professionally produced.


(i)  The lack of international recognition of the Patecte necessitated a two-year construction of a base audience.  We now have 5,000 Facebook friends and over 3,400 LinkedIn contacts for our page, “The Search for The Lost Gold Patecte of Ecuador.”  That audience is consistent with known demographic characteristics of Kickstarter donors, e.g., people aged 44/less living in large cities, with higher levels of education and earning more money than the general population.

Our Internet friends include artists and art critics, anthropologists, historians, archaeologists, psychoanalysts, museums, galleries, Latin Americanists, antiquarians, newspaper and magazine editors and reporters, as well as media producers and directors with Netflix, Discovery, Smithsonian, Fox, History Channel, Arte, National Geographic, A&E, Amazon Prime, Sony, Hulu, HBO. 

(ii)  Professional production shows respect for the audience.  However, it is not free. $15,000 is the minimum cost of solid direction, filming and editing of a four-minute presentation.

The presentation created by our media experts will be used for our crowdfunding campaign to fund the main event — the full (if need be) $700,000 for the documentary.


For this ground floor on Fund My Film, we have — in the spirit of the Patecte — one award.  Exclusive messages, including answers to your questions, timely updates, and information not given elsewhere will make you a full partner in a real-life treasure hunt as compelling as it is unparalleled.

Coffee cups and other awards will be offered in our second crowdfunding campaign to finance the documentary per se.


There is no “Mister Big” back there — no institutional tie, no wealthy patron. We do not have a staff of twenty people; no padded expense accounts.

We have only one thing:  you. 

It is not widely known, but producers and directors make documentaries to make a statement – not money.  They know only too well the proverbial bottom line:  the vast majority of documentaries do not turn a profit.  (Michael Moore is an exception; two of the three top grossing documentaries are his films.  Even Moore´s profits, however, are meager compared to those of fiction productions.)

What that means: 

Traditional means of financing films – studios and private investors – are closed to documentaries.  Their filmmakers are forced to go elsewhere for money.

What it comes down to: 

Without donations from people like you, there will be no search for the lost gold Patecte.  The insights it generates into human identity and its contribution to reduce the marginalization of Latin America – the principal cause of the region´s economic underdevelopment – will go quietly into that dark night.

There is a basic truth about any project like ours. Although some donations are bigger than others, there is no such thing as a small donation. 

Please tell your friends and family about us.  And don´t forget to send us your email address:  .

Thank you for your attention — and for your financial support.

Want to know more about the Patecte?  Visit the blog on our website:  You will find posts on everything from the Patecte´s age and monetary value to the meaning of its symbols.