Colombian films: Progression and Problematic
By Daniel Patiño
In the history of the Colombian cinema, producers and directors have always been struggling with the policies for making movies in the country, always trying to get a stronger support from the state, politics, and industry to produce national movies. Only a few men had been able – as a result of their wealth – with their advantage of power and influence to film movies and not die trying to.
Over time, some authors – also technology and reflection – have progressively achieved consolidating their work as the representative cinema that stands for the cultural and national strengthening in movies. Titles as Pura Sangre (1982), La mansión de Araucaima (1986), La estrategia del Caracol (1993), La vendedora de Rosas (1993), La gente del Universal (1991), contributed to the development of the Colombian identity with their particular treatment in films which are seen now as big references when shooting an art film.
Nowadays, and thanks to the changes in the policies of the new century (Filmmaking law 2003 and Law 1556), filmmakers, producers, movie exhibition industry, and the public have been the actors who cooperated with changing in the different diffusion dynamics in cultural aspects of the seventh art made in Colombia. The movies filmed by directors such as Ciro Guerra and his Abrazo de la Serpiente (2015) or Los viajes del Viento(2009), Rubén Mendoza and his Sociedad del Semáforo (2010) or perhaps Cesar Augusto Acevedo with his Los Hongos (2014) and La Tierra y la Sombra (2015) (all of them young filmmakers) have given a different perspective to Colombian cinema which could not have been established before with the same fluency, due to the fact that the filmmaking industry had not properly been supported.
However, the shortcomings of movie industry in Colombia do not only come from the state or the producers, but also from the audience itself, which does not seem inclined to watch authentically Colombian movies. Colombians have lived immersed in movies and television that is focused on the show and entertain based on the special effects or pure action resources. Explosions and a green wall are amusement parks for a public who has felt almost always thirsty of a movie that dazzles and take them to a fantastic place. Then, you would have to wonder yourself if you’d stand to watch happy endings with quasi-perfect characters for the rest of your relationship with films.
It could not be too much time in a world where plausible stories are not epic or fantastic stories but existentialist, unfinished, with a great chance of a terrible or beautiful destiny. This is a huge step that has been accomplished by those involved in making films in Colombia. Formulas for making movies don’t come uniquely from Hollywood. New era and the internet have played a key role for this revelation in the collective unconscious. Massive data transference has awakened and stimulated in each author and producer a sensibility over how to develop an ideological perspective while knowing as well in which way it must be developed taking into consideration the necessities of himself as an author and director. Virtual movie libraries (Retina Latina), cinema reviews, relevant trends of the moment, filmmaking guides are a few of the extended sources of filmmaking knowledge that can be used as a result of the internet.
In general, Colombia and its movie industry have taken a positive road. From squared movies that always talked about armed conflict (FARC-EP), drug trafficking, and the chick flicks to a wider diversity towards to a reflective cinema where one of the objectives is that the movie viewer reads the lines of each scene and that he analyzes similitudes with his real direct life. Also, directors have been trying to find out what style or treatments are they giving to their own movies. Giving the Colombian cinema depth and more dimensionality that is evolving gradually.
Still and all, there are two aspects that require high attention. The first one is the lack of communication between filmmakers and the public. People that go to movie theaters are complaining about the national movies and that they don’t fulfill their thirst for entertainment. Truth is that a problem like this needs from both sides. The public must learn and begin to develop a sensitivity to new trends and to appreciate them, based on their own sense of criticism and also the comparison with their context and reality. At the same time, film directors must find themselves as artists and decide if they are looking for acknowledgment, money, or a social change: And start from this point.
The second and last issue is very connected to the first one: Europe is the Colombian’s new reference for making movies! Long sequence shots, deep lines of dialogue, abstraction in the narrative, unnecessary eccentricities, and so on, have become the hand tools for directors. This produces a cultural clash between the reality of the context and what we really want to see us become. Nowadays, one of the crucial task for the Colombian producers and filmmakers it is not to not make armed conflict movies (which is not bad as a topic depending on the film treatment, after all, is part of the reality) but to build a bridge between what we are as nation with an authentic culture, what we want to express it, and the button that activates the hearts of the Colombians who have appetite for watching movies.