Colombian Cinema at the Zurich Film Festival

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Jul 16, 2019

The 15th edition of the Zurich Film Festival (ZFF) which runs September 26 through October 6, will shine a light on Colombian cinema. The program will highlight a new generation of filmmakers whose work reflects on the country’s recent history.

In its program „New World View“ the Zurich Film Festival has, since 2007, focused on a country that has provided some of the most innovative filmmaking in recent years. Co-Directors Nadja Schildknecht and Karl Spoerri, say „Since its beginning the festival has championed Latin American cinema. After Argentina, Brazil and Mexico in previous years we will now introduce our audience to Colombian cinema, and its new generation of filmmakers that have garnered prestigious festival awards over recent years“. 

The program is put together by Senior programmer Georg Bütler, who explains „There is a new generation of Colombian auteurs born in the 1980s or 1990s. They deal in an innovative way with contemporary life in Colombia. Contemporary life is both exciting and full of optimism although the recent history of their homeland has been shaped by drug wars and violence“. He continues: „Protagonists of the films are often young people who live in the metropolises of Medellín and Bogotá. They are still looking for their place in a confusing world. The young Colombian auteur cinema is artistically uncompromising and belongs to the most innovative cinematographies of Latin America. It tells stories with urgency and isn’t made for success in the home market in the first place. On the contrary, the filmmakers aim to reach an international audience with their locally rooted stories.“

Many of the filmmakers of the new generation are alumni of the Universidad Nacional de Colombia in Bogotá, the Universidad del Valle in Cali or the Universidad de Antioquia in Medellín. These institutions are dramatically underfunded but have nevertheless shaped new directors such as Ciro Guerra (*1981) whose EL ABRAZO DE LA SERPIENTE earned an Oscar nomination for Best Foreign Language Film – the first for a Colombian film. His following film PAJAROS DE VERANO (BIRDS OF PASSAGE) won 17 festival awards.

Several films by the new generation have been shown at the Zurich Film Festival. Such as MANOS SUCIAS by Josef Kubota Wladyka, A RIVER BELOW by Mark Grieco (Audience Award 2017) and the youth drama MATAR A JESÚS (KILLING JESUS) by Laura Mora Ortega.

The 15th ZFF will present a dozen feature films including documentaries from the last four years. The program is made in collaboration with the Short Film Festival of Switzerland which selects some of the finest Colombian short films. The films will be announced on September 12.

Articles authored by Martin Signer

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