Some of the best Colombian movies that were considered or preselected for the country’s bid in the Oscars 2020 for the International Feature category were: “El Piedra”, “Litigante”, “Monos”, and “Los días de la ballena”.
Monos, one of the best Colombian movies according to the ACACC
The Colombian Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences, or ACACC (its Spanish acronym), decided to place all bids in Alejandro Landes’ recent film: Monos. According to the association, this is one of the best Colombian movies of the year. Hence, this is the film that has all that it takes to get a nomination as one of the Best International Features in international film festivals. It also represented Colombia in the Spanish Goya Awards.
It may come as a surprise that Alejandro Landes, writer and director of the film was not a regular in the Colombian film industry. He actually has a bachelor’s degree in Political Economy from Brown University. His innate curiosity then led him into journalism, and from there, cinema was a natural progression.
The best Colombian movies take a different approach
As a Colombian survival thriller, this movie focuses around a rebel group of young soldiers that include Rambo, Wolf, Lady, Boom-Boom, Smurf, and Bigfoot. The squadron works for a group known as “The Organization,” and is located atop a remote mountain where they train, watch over a prisoner (an American Engineer named Doctora), and look after a conscripted milk cow. Everything unravels when the group is attacked.
They are forced to leave their base, go into the jungle, and make sure that the American woman is protected while the child soldiers face the enemy. Monos is considered one of the best Colombian movies of the year because it captivates the hearts of the audience with its ornate aesthetic, mystical setting, and clever reframing of the war film genre.
The journey behind this Colombian film
To create Monos and establish it as one of best Colombian movies was quite a challenge. From casting natural underage actors to including real animals in the film, and shooting in locations with uncontrollable weather, the movie is Landes’ toughest production yet.
Casting the crew of “The Organization” concluded after a first audition call that started with 800 candidates. The group was then narrowed down to 30, and finally to the 8 that were selected. However, professional actors were also cast, like Moisés Arias, a former Disney Channel actor from Hannah Montana and recent films such as Ender’s Game.
From the best Colombian movies of the year, Monos took the lead
Monos had quite the turnout. After premiering in over 30 countries including, Spain, Uruguay, and Curacao, this Colombian film dazzled audiences at festivals such as Sundance, where it won the World Cinema Dramatic Special Jury Award, Romania, and Ukraine among others.
International prizes awarded to this Colombian film
Many of the factors that influenced the film’s consideration as one of the best Colombian films of the year had to do with its successful journey in festivals around the world.
Monos received the Best Director award in
– Odessa International Film Festival 2019
– Newport Beach Film Festival 2019
– Santiago International Film Festival (SANFIC) 2019
This Colombian movie also received acknowledgements for Best Film in:
– Newport Beach Film Festival 2019
– Transilvania International Film Festival
– Slovakia Art Film Fest 2019
– Jameson CineFest- Miskolc International Film Festival
– Ljubljana International Film Festival
– San Sebastián International Film Festival 2019
– Viña del Mar Film Festival
Participation in international festivals
Some of the festivals where this Colombian film screened and also, got some nominations were:
– Berlin International Film Festival, BAFICI
– Buenos Aires International Festival of Independent Cinema
– Ghent International Film Festival
– Ljubljana International Film Festival
– Montreal Festival of New Cinema
– Stockholm Film Festival
-Sydney Film Festival
“Los Días de La Ballena” was also considered one of the best Colombian movies of the year
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This film by Colombian writer-director Catalina Arroyave is set in Medellin, Colombia. The city is the home to two young graffiti artists, Christina and Simon, who exhibit their talent on the walls of the local streets. The two friends defy a criminal gang when they paint a whale over a threat.
This story revolves around the artists and their restless spirit to challenge fear, violence and the struggles of growing up. Days of the Whale allows us to understand the world of urban art in Medellin, as well as young love and true friendships that evolve in the midst of fighting for what you believe in.
Street art, a whale in the middle of the city and a new realism are the highlights of this Colombian film
Inspired by the stories of people close to her, Catalina investigated the dynamics between street gangs and the invisible frontiers within certain neighborhoods in Medellin, especially those between street artists like graffiti and muralists. At the time, she felt a lot like the main character of the movie, Christina; a strong-minded person who wants to speak her opinion loudly without thinking about the consequences.
It is a movie that talks about the courage of youth in facing unfair realities. Furthermore, the idea was to integrate all middle-class voices, not only segregated ones, with an empowered female voice navigating through all of the spaces within one city.
Curious Facts about the production of one of the best Colombian movies
Finding the main actors of this film, Laura Tobón and David Escallón, was quite the challenge. Arroyave started casting for natural actors who were related somehow to street art. However, when her art director read the script, she said: “I know this guy, I know who is Simon for real, he already exists “. They even made a teaser with him, and thanks to that, they raised the funds to produce the movie. At first, the director discarded him because he was not an actor, nor was he a graffiti artist.
In her journey of finding Cristina, she talked to fellow director Laura Mora (known for “Matar a Jesús”), who suggested an actress that had been casted for her movie. So, she sent Laura Tobón in and Arroyave found her to be perfect for the part and invited her to audition.
On the day of the calling, she arrived on a bicycle with David. As it turned out, they not only knew each other but also were best friends in real life. It was then that the director understood what she was really looking for; it was the complicity between two people instead of their street art expertise. That is when she decided she was going to teach them how to act and also help them develop graffiti and street art skills.
International prizes awarded to this film
The movie premiered at South By Southwest Film Festival with a great response from the audience. As such, Catalina Arroyave won the CherryPicks Female First Feature Award.
Also, at the New York Colombian Film Festival, the movie was granted with the Audience Award. In Estonia, at the Black Nights Film Festival 2019 “Los Días de La
Ballena” won the Work in Progress Award.
This Colombian movie was also nominated in several international festivals in countries such as Argentina, Brasil, Spain, Australia, and Switzerland among others.
Other festivals this Colombian film has screened and had nominations for are:
-Cartagena Film Festival (FICCI) – Best Colombian movies
– Latin America FILMAR Festival
– Trieste Latin Festival 2019
– Monterrey International Film Festival
– Malmo Latin American Fokus
Colombian films are being noticed internationally. From nominations and acknowledgments to screenings worldwide, we hope you get a chance to see some of the best Colombian movies of the previous year. Don’t miss #TheBestOfColombia and enjoy this great selection of our cinema.