Yes, we Cannes!

If you asked most people about the front-runners in movie making for the last 50 years, I very much doubt that they would mention Colombia. 

If you asked most people about the front-runners in movie making for the last 50 years, I very much doubt that they would mention Colombia. However, the recent Cannes film festivals have helped to highlight the progress being made in this country regarding movies. The usual suspects from USA and Europe were represented strongly in various categories, but were followed closely by Colombia in terms of nominations. Countries like England, Spain, Mexico, Argentina, Iran and India had fewer films nominated for awards. It was compared by one Colombian director as “similar to having three teams in the Champions League Final”.

Many people feel that Cannes is the world’s greatest and legitimate film festival. Where the Oscars likes to award huge budget, home-grown, ticket-selling blockbusters - Cannes prides itself on spotting raw talent and glimpses of genius from movies all over the globe. Contending with the giant heavyweights in Hollywood and Europe, Colombia was the fourth most represented country at the festival. This is in no way a small feat and hopefully will encourage future Colombian writers, directors, producers and actors to continue practicing their trade.

Colombia was represented by many movies, but one of the most exciting entries in the 2014 award race was “The Embrace of the Snake” film by Ciro Guerra. It tells the story of the relationship between Karamakate, an Amazonian shaman and last survivor of his people, and two scientists who work together over the course of 40 years to search the Amazon for a sacred healing plant.

The multiple nominations and awards in recent years seem to show a positive change in attitude towards this country. It looks like Cannes is now respecting Colombia as a source of real natural movie-making talent. People are realizing that there is more to Colombia than drug-trafficking movies and the country has many beautiful, sad and endearing stories which have not been told. 

One of the strongest examples of raw talent emerging from Colombia was “Leidi” in 2013, the short film by Simon Soto Mesa. This won in the “Best Short Film” Category. It tells the story of a mother who hears rumors about her boyfriend cheating on her. After bathing her child, she is sent to buy plantains by her mother. In spite of her orders, Leidi decides not to return home until she has faced the father of her child. The film provides the viewer with a realistic view of the rural lives of many people in Latin America and the warmth of passion that they possess.

Confidence in the movie-making sector in Colombia has grown immensely over the last few years. People are now setting their sights on the famous Palme d’Or – The highest prize awarded at the Cannes Film Festival. I, for one, can see it happening eventually. The future for movies in Colombia is bright and the film industry deserves all the attention of its recent successes. For a country plagued with old stereo-types, this is an opportunity to shed light on the real beauty of this wonderful place.

Prepared by: Jonathan Zur

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