We are just a couple of days away from the coveted 88th Annual Academy Award show; and even though it is the most watched program, (aside from the Super Bowl) the amount of ratings it’ll clock for Sunday’s show still remains to be seen. Being a huge movie fan and proud Colombian, I can assure that this year was greatly disappointing to have seen so many outstanding movies overlooked. The controversy attached to this year’s Oscars has sparked such heated debate – including a hashtag #OscarSoWhite – it has compelled heavy hitters like Spike Lee, Will Smith, Jada Pinkett-Smith and Ice Cube to have taken the public stance of boycotting Sunday’s telecast. I personally would’ve shared the sentiment had it not been for the announcement of one huge and monumental step in the right direction regarding diversity: the nomination of “Embrace of the Serpent” in the category of Best Foreign Language Film.
At first glance, it might seem bias but in the grander scheme, this nomination stands for more than mere vanity – it is the acknowledgement of a country full of talent that often gets downplayed and overlooked by the media’s perception of Colombia. Embrace is the first film to ever be considered in this category – and although there has been a number of award-winning films and filmmakers to break out of Colombia – this is the first contender to possibly win Oscar gold. Why has it taken the Academy over 88 years to acknowledge a country full of talented storytellers? …but then again, look at this year’s list of nominees. *points to the pink elephant in the room*
“Embrace of the Serpent” is directed by Ciro Guerra from Rio de Oro, Colombia. The film is described as an “adventure drama” split between two stories at the start of the 20th century – 1909 and 1940 to be exact. Both stories share the same character Karamakate, an Amazonian shaman and last surveyor of this tribe. Karamakate escorts two differing scientists, German Theodor Koch-Grunberg and American Richard Evans Schultes, to find a rare and medicinal plant called the “yakruna” plant. The film is loosely inspired by the diaries of two scientists during their field work in the Amazon. Film also incorporated the help of actual tribesmen turned actors. Presently, there’s a number of on-camera interviews on Youtube where said actors are seen expressing their reasoning behind participating: to keep their culture and tribes very much alive. And although the film (which is shot in a picturesque black and white) is meant to tell stories of the past, it simultaneously illustrates the beauty and the unfortunate withering of Amazonian life. Ciro did an expectional job in capturing the gorgeous landscapes of these thriving communities presently in danger of loosing their agriculture and long withstanding history. Guerra has been active as both film director and screenwriter since 2004 with his first film “Wandering Shadows.” Coincidentally, that same year when “Wandering” was released, it too had been selected as Colombia’s submission for Best Foreign Language Film at the 78th Academy Awards – but sadly, it was not nominated. If he wins Oscar this Sunday night, vindication will literally be spelled C.O. L. O. M. B. I. A.
And speaking of Colombians in films, after Oscar night, be sure to book your flying arraignments to New York City and cop your movie tickets as quickly as you can to attend the fourth annual Colombian Film Festival. The Colombian Film Festival aka #ColFilmNYC is prepared to screen a number of Colombian films – all differing in regions and folklore. Festival will be hosted at the popular indie moviehouse Village East Cinema (189 2nd Avenue, NYC) between March 22nd to March 27th. On March 22nd, opening night, expect to see the premiere of “Anna” directed by Jacques Toulemonde and featuring Juana Acosta. Directly following the screening, is a special concert featuring Grammy-winner and barranquillero, Andres Cabas. Let’s see what 2016 has to offer us Colombianos. Que sea una ola de oro y muchisima suerte mi gente! Below, let us know if you’ll be watching the Oscars telecast this Sunday – and don’t forget to stay tuned to Snkrbst.com for all the latest and greatest. #ThinkLikeUs
By Roz Baron
Editor-in-Chief of Snkrbst.com