With eight preems and more than 20 projects in different stages of development — some of which will be finished this year — 2004 is being viewed as a high-water mark for local production in Colombia. As a result, 16 to 20 films reportedly will bow in 2005.
Directors, critics and insiders agree the recent National Cinema Law is the most important event in the history of Colombian cinema. After four years of preparations and debates in Congress, the law was approved in 2003. The law is designed to cut much of the red tape that made projects difficult to launch. Investment from the public and private sectors as well as mechanisms that make filmmaking, distribution and exhibition easier are being hailed as very positive. Some countries around the region have shown interest in the Colombian law and are looking at ways to adopt similar legislation in order to spur local production.
Sources at the Ministry of Culture’s Film Institute mention two new directors to watch: 24-year-old Ciro Guerra, whose first film, “La sombra del caminante,” premiered earlier this year, and Antonio Dorado, who made his debut with “El rey.” The B&W “La sombra” takes a stark look at the lives of two young men in a shantytown on the outskirts of Bogota. Dorado’s “El rey” was nominated for a Goya in Spain and won the Colombian film kudo at the Bogota Film Festival. “El rey” co-star Cristina Umana, a young soap actress from Bogota, is also tapped as an up-and-comer to keep an eye on.
Veteran director Sergio Cabrera in April premiered his latest film, “Perder es cuestion de metodo” (The Art of Losing), based on the 1997 novel by Santiago Gamboa. At the forefront of Colombian cinema, Cabrera is responsible for “La estrategia del caracol” (1993), which holds the local B.O. record of just over 1.5 million tickets.
The National Film Institute will not have a stand at Cannes this year, but two of the country’s biggest distribs, Cineplex and Centauro Prods., will have reps on hand.