Colombia’s film industry is booming. Ever since the Colombian government introduced tax rebates for production, staff, accommodation, catering and transport on movie sets last year, the country has hosted production crews from across the world, particularly the United States. But foreign films are a small part of the industry’s success. Local movies are winning big at international festivals and with international audiences. Here are some of the nation’s favorite Colombian movies:
1. Strategy of the Snail (La Estrategia del Caracol)
This 1993 comedy drama is a Colombian classic. It tells the amusing tale of a group of tenants who live in a house owned by a wealthy, obnoxious landlord. When the tenants are ordered to leave, they come up with an ingenious plan to move the entire contents of their home, including walls, windows, kitchens and toilets to a new location. The film is beloved for its depiction of Colombia’s social stratum. It was directed by Sergio Cabrera, won a prize at the Berlin International Film Festival and starred popstar Carlos Vives, among others.
2. The Rose Seller (La Vendedora de Rosas)
The Rose Seller (1998) was nominated for the prestigious Palme d-Or prize at Cannes, for its realistic depiction of life on the streets of Medellin a decade ago. The film was based on The Little Match Girl, by Hans Christian Andersen and showed children hawking at streetlights in areas filled with poverty and drugs. Director Victor Gaviria used real street children in the movie. Leidy Tabares, who played the title role, was selling roses in Medellin’s party zone when she was scouted for her part.
3. Rodrigo D: No Future (Rodrigo D: No Futuro)
This 1990 movie was one of director Victor Gaviria‘s earlier works. Rodrigo is a poor, troubled teenager who lives in a difficult part of Medellin and is struggling to overcome the loss of his mother and family animosity. He wants to start a punk band to escape the crime and violence around him and spends most of the film trying to find drumsticks and music lessons to achieve his dream. The film is shot in a quasi-documentary format and also used real street children as actors.
4. The Wind Journeys (Los Viajes del Viento)
The Wind Journeys (2009) is a beautifully-shot movie that was filmed in 80 locations across Northern Colombia, uses four languages (Spanish, Palenquero, Wayuunaiki and Ikun) and tells a story typical of the region. Ignacio Carrillo is a vallenato singer who, when his wife dies, decides to stop playing and return his cursed accordion to his teacher. The film follows his journey, on a donkey, through the Caribbean region and includes Ignacio’s participation in the first version of Valledupar’s legendary vallenato festival. The Wind Journeys was directed by Ciro Guerra.
5. The Colors of the Mountain (Los Colores de la Montaña)
This moving 2010 film tells the story of three children living in a small village in one of Colombia’s mountainous border regions. One of the children, Manuel, receives a football as a birthday gift, but it rolls into a minefield close to the village. The film revolves around Manuel’s attempts to retrieve his ball and life in the village, which is caught in the conflict between the guerrilla and the Army. The movie was Colombia’s entry into the Best Foreign Language Film category of the Oscars and was directed by Carlos Cesar Arbelaez. It’s clear that, when it comes to making movies, Colombia is the answer.
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