Charlotte Mackenzie takes a look at Colombia’s booming movie industry and some of the country’s biggest film festivals
Colombia might not immediately spring to mind for its film industry, with Latin American heavyweights Argentina and Mexico normally taking centre stage, but, as we’re feeling all Oscar-y – Iñárritu’s three Academy Awards highlighting the success of Mexican cinema – we thought it was worth grabbing some sugary snacks and looking at some of the gems of Colombian cinema too.
A classic that springs to mind is La Vendedora de Rosas, narrating the gritty life of baby-faced Leidy Tabares in 1990’s Medellin- incidentally, in a case of art imitating life, the actress was just released from a twenty-year stint in prison. Another difficult but worthwhile watch is Berlinale-award winner and Oscar nominee María, Llena Eres de Gracia, which depicts the harsh reality of drug smuggling and the desperation to reach the United States.
With classics such as those and more modern releases, including Mateo and Tierra en la Lengua, both well-received at the Miami Film Festival and others, it’s no wonder that Colombia is replete with film festivals celebrating local and international talent. Here are just a few of them:
Festival Internacional de Cine – Cartagena de Indias, March 11-17
In March this year, Cartagena will once again come alive with the glamour and glitz of its annual film festival. Special guests from the past few years include Eric Cantona, Alejandro González Iñárritu and Clive Owen.
Festival de Cine de Bogotá, October 20-28
Closer to home, Bogota will host the 32nd edition of its very own film festival in October, with an emphasis on social and environmental issues.
Festival de Cine Independiente de Villa de Leyva, Dates TBC
A perfect excuse to get out of town and watch great films under starry skies! For four days, the picturesque Boyaca town is taken over by film fans and crews alike. It also includes a festivalito, with shorts and feature-length films for children as well as a number of activities and workshops. Although dates have not yet been confirmed for this year, it is likely to be in November.
Festival de Cine de Santa Fe de Antioquia, December
Not to forget our paisa friends, we should definitely mention the Antioquian film festival held during December. Its warm climate and proximity to Medellin make this festival one worth a visit, and if you haven’t yet been to one of Colombia’s oldest cities, what better excuse?
Festival de Cine Verde de Barichara, September 16-20
Although only in its fifth year, Barichara’s green film festival – which runs from September 16-20 – invites you to take a more ecological approach to cinema, with films, talks, workshops and more in defence of the environment.
Festival Internacional de Cine de Cali, dates TBC
Last but definitely not least is the salsa capital’s international film festival. With an eclectic programme mixing national and international films and shorts, it’s definitely worth the trip. What’s more, you’ll be able to shake your hips to the sounds of salsa in between showings. Last year, it ran from the end of October to November.
By Charlotte Mackenzie