Colombia: The Oscars and beyond
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Colombia: The Oscars and beyond

Colombian director Ciro Guerra’s Oscar nomination for ‘Embrace of the Serpent’ (El abrazo de la serpiente) is a first for the country’s cinema. And he’s not the Colombia’s only director to have enjoyed recent success.

Guerra was among some of cinema’s most famous and glamourous faces as he attended an Oscar nominees’ dinner earlier this month. Despite many well-known Hollywood names appearing in the line-up, Guerra is one of a few Latin American directors to have been nominated this year.

With an international market dominated by Hollywood and the more local competition from Mexico and Argentina, Colombian cinema has often been left by the wayside. Not anymore it seems. From Cannes to Sundance to the Oscars: Colombian films have been competing on some of the industry’s most prestigious platforms.


Manolo Cruz’s ‘Between Sea and Land’ (La Ciénaga: entre el mar y la tierra) was doubly victorious at this year’s Sundance Film Festival, daily El Tiempo reports.

Nominated in the World Cinema category, it won both the Audience’s Choice Award and the Special Jury Award for Acting. The film saw the directing debut of Cruz, who also acted in the film, for which he too had written the script.

Felipe Guerrero is another first-time director proving successful. His first feature-length film ‘Oscuro animal’, was among eight works to be nominated in The Hivos Tiger Awards Competition at The International Film Festival of Rotterdam. The film follows the journey of three women, fleeing from the depths of the jungle to the outskirts of Bogotá, in search of a new life.

Actress Marleyda Soto, who stars as one of the female protagonists, has also had a successful year. She was awarded a prize at the Viña del Mar Film Festival in Chile for her role in César Acevedo’s ‘Land and Shade’ (La Tierra y la sombra). The film itself – Acevedo’s debut as director – won the highly esteemed Caméra d’Or award at the 2015 Cannes film festival.

‘Land and Shade’ tells the tale of a campesino (country worker) who returns home after many years to find sugar canes overrunning the countryside. The wild and harsh Colombian landscape has a strong symbolic and thematic importance within Acevedo´s film, as it does too in the others. A man paralysed by illness is unable to reach the sea which lies so closeby…

The Colombian Amazon features both in ‘Oscuro animal’ and ‘Embrace of the Serpent’. The latter in particular portrays much of the indigenous culture and history of the region. The film’s nomination for such an internationally renowned reward is a great achievement for all involved. Yet for director Guerra – El Espectador reports- the most important aspect of the nomination is that the film is spoken in indigenous languages, those foreign even to a Colombian audience.

With all these achievements – and possibly even more to come – now is an exciting time for Colombian cinema.

See also:

Ixcanul: Guatemala’s nomination for Oscars 2016 achieves critical acclaim