Four Colombian films will be screened at the 45th International Film Festival Rotterdam (IFFR) in the Netherlands, January 27-February 7, 2016: El abrazo de la serpiente, Oscuro animal, Entrelazado, and Deseos. [Many thanks to Peter Jordens for this post.] Here are short descriptions of the four films from the IFFR website, https://iffr.com/en:
El abrazo de la serpiente [Embrace of the Serpent] (Ciro Guerra, 122 minutes) In the Amazonian jungle in the early 1900s, the German explorer Theo and his guide Manduca meet the shaman Karamakate. Theo has been in Amazonia for a long time already, but is very ill and in search of a rare medicinal plant. The shaman, whose people were murdered and displaced by white men, accompanies the two in the hope of finding surviving members of his tribe. What follows is a physically and mentally enervating and exhausting journey across the river, shot in breathtaking black-and-white images.
The journey reveals the influence of Western greed and missionary zeal in this previously unspoilt territory. The scenes are intercut with images of an expedition that takes place decades later, when a young American is confronted with an aged Karamakate. The film exudes grief over a lost civilization, whose unique insights and relationship to nature have so much to teach the Western world, especially now. The film is nominated for an Academy Award for Best Film in a Foreign Language.
Oscuro animal [Dark Animal] (Felipe Guerrero, 107 minutes) The protagonists don’t speak – which only makes the images all the more telling in this drama about three women who manage to escape a dangerous war situation in different places in the jungle. One day, La Mona stabs her sleeping boyfriend, a brutal paramilitary commander. She flees. A second woman, Rocío, also has to leave her place of residence, as it is surrounded by paramilitary troops. Nelsa is one of the paramilitaries, but she turns her back on them after being forced to bury the dismembered bodies of executed farmers. Rocío is attacked by soldiers in a bus deep in the rainforest, while La Mona struggles through a river. Meanwhile, Nelsa continues her journey in a pick-up truck with the man who helped her desert. On their way to Bogotá, all three women come across other displaced persons – the desplazados – as well as demonstrators carrying photos of their lost loved ones. Despite the dramatic events, Oscuro animal manages to preserve a sense of calm in its imagery, which is almost serene. Director Felipe Guerrero, who made the film with support from the Hubert Bals Fund, allows these persecuted women space. The absence of dialogue sharpens our attentiveness to ambient sound: the birds in the rainforest, the music on the radio and the fall of the raindrops that caress Nelsa’s face once her life has grown more peaceful again.
Entrelazado [Entangled] (Riccardo Giacconi, 37 minutes) Cali, Colombia. A tailor, a puppeteer, a parapsychologist and a physicist discuss events deemed impossible. Calm shots connect seemingly unrelated things: close-ups of a lion at rest, the puppets before they come to life, the tailor’s needle and thread.
Deseos [Desires] (Carlos Motta, 33 minutes) The fictional correspondence between Colombian Martina and Lebanese Nour demonstrates how medicines, laws, religion and cultural tradition determine the dominant discourse on gender and sexuality. The images from both countries subtly pull you into their world and their letters make the personal struggle of every woman palpable.
For more information, see https://iffr.com/en