Violence in Colombian New Cinema: Exhausted Topic or Not?

One of the main controversial issues in Colombian new Cinema is the selection of the theme when making a movie; but, more particularly, it is controversial if the topic is either narcotraffic-related violence or Guerrilla-related. The audience seems to be divided into two big (general) sides when they must give their opinions about these specific types of movies.

One side feels attracted to this type of films because they are looking mostly entertainment productions who can easily provide amusement and action for them in short terms and nothing but that. The other side rejects this type of films arguing that the purpose of these movies doesn’t go beyond feeding the morbid needs of a public, and also that they don’t provide a new perspective and improvement in the variety in Colombian movies and its culture. This is still is very discussed among the people who analyze Colombian cinema.

Film directors have proven that they have the insight to understand and come up with very interesting proposals. The Colors of the Mountains by Carlos César Arbeláez (2010), the Towrope by William Vega (2012), and Violence by Jorge Forero (2015) are some of the most recent and accurate, if I am allowed to state, movies which intend to provide a deeper view – accomplishing it in a higher or lower level – of what a man’s life is in a world of not only corruption, chaos, war, and death but also dreams, opportunities, family, and love.

These movies may depict the same reality but are not focused on the same aspects (explicit violence), not even Forero’s Violence, with a name so minimal and direct that can make you feel a little bit uncomfortable due to its title simplicity… And even, if it cannot be said these films are flawless, it can be said that they have contributed to the identity of Colombian cinema culture.

Also, the same reflection that all these new artistic trends in movies are getting at can be used as a moral tool to illustrate and teach values and the importance of life itself with a high technical filmmaking quality, especially in these new days for Colombia where the armed conflict and the biggest guerrilla of the country and one of the cruelest in the history (FARC – EP) gave up their guns.

As I said, the titles mentioned before are not necessarily classic movies now. There are evident flaws in the three of them. However, the importance of this article is not to criticize every frame of the movie but to understand the big picture of the new perspective of violence in Colombia’s cinema and its impact in society’s behavior.

People in Colombia enjoy violence as much as they enjoy going to the movies. Of course, this doesn’t mean that everybody does it in a morbid way some of them just enjoy the illusion of the violence but don’t take it by their hand. Also, violence has been the most common answer to a lot of intrigues and for desperation in real life for ordinary people, ordinary children. Even some Colombians reacted violently the moment they disagreed with the Colombian peace process due to the fact that they didn’t believe there was really a transparent deal. Still and all, in the country, there are important people who keep thinking that some individuals must die in order for everybody to be able to say that justice is for all.

That is why there must still be film directors who treat and bring new perspectives on this rusty and controversial, but at the same time fresh subject instead of just showing killing, punishing, and death with no other purpose than to only entertain people without thinking the unconscious consequences that movies have in people’s mind – sometimes for life – and therefore society. The problem of violence as a topic is not the public preference. There is always going to be disagreements because of the preferences of the public. Action movies are not bad at all, and narco

The problem of violence as a topic is not the public preference. There is always going to be disagreements because of the preferences of the public. Action movies are not bad at all, and narco movies don’t have to be taken as the worst thing ever created, but there must be a consistent and progressive diversity of movies directed with a different perspective for each public well intended for the constant development and enrichment of the culture and nation. I don’t mean by this that movies should become now some Dora the Explorer! Or perhaps Sesame Street but in this crucial time in history of the country, film writers must walk carefully around that awful fire which has burned the country and its people over all its history.


This essay is from film critic and cinephile Daniel Patiño

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