Photo: Contravía Films

4.5/5 stars

There’s something endearing about the use of black and white in modern films. It tests our attention span, because we’re used to being bombarded with colourful images, but it also adds a certain sense of nostalgia and, when used correctly, it can touch us in the most poetic way.

That’s the case with Siembra, a story that deals with forced migration, loss and grief. Quite an ambitious premise that debuting directors Ángela Osorio and Santiago Lozano were able to successfully carry out in one of the most noteworthy Colombian films of the year.

Turco is a fisherman and farmer from the Pacific coast who can’t seem to feel at home in Cali, where he lives with his family in near poverty after being forced off their land by an illegal armed group. His 19-year-old son Yosner, on the other hand, has adapted quite well. He’s a hothead with a passion for street dance who sees a bright future for himself in the city.

Despite Yosner’s discouragement, Turco wants to go back to his home region. He yearns for the opportunity to put his land to good use again and pass it down to his son as an inheritance. Instead, he’s stuck in a limbo filled with frustration and a feeling of not belonging.

Unfortunately, things go tragically wrong. Yosner is killed in a shooting and Turco is confronted with a grim reality that looks nothing like what he had aspired to.

He decides to wait some time before burying his son because he wants to give Yosner a proper grave. In the meantime, he takes the audience on a soul-searching journey of deep sorrow. Turco is a contained but profound leading character, impressively portrayed by folk musician Diego Balanta.

And music plays a central part in the narration. Some of the most memorable scenes involve characters singing their grief away, which gives the film a dream-like tone that contrasts with the crude realism of the story.

This is yet another example of the remarkable work of contemporary Cali filmmakers. This movie was accomplished thanks to a massive collaborative work that involved local production companies, a university and some well-deserved national and international grants, as well as the participation of some of Caliwood’s finest young directors, such as César Acevedo (La tierra y la sombra), Óscar Ruíz Navia (El vuelco del cangrejo) and William Vega (La sirga).

Siembra opens in theatres on April 14. If you’re looking for the next big thing in Colombian cinema after the whole ‘serpent craze’, this might just be it.

By Jazid Contreras


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