Colombia’s Capital Hosts Two New Film Festivals

Colombia’s vibrant capital of Bogota is hosting three competing international film festivals this year. After decades of being overshadowed by the coastal town of Cartagena, and its well-established film fest run by producer Diana Bustamante, the capital will see two new film fests launch in 2015. They join Bogocine (Oct. 20-28), led by founder Henry Laguado since 1984, which will face stiff competition for films and sponsors.

The 10-day IndieBo launched this month (July 16-26) and ran alongside the 6-year old Bogota Audiovisual Market (BAM). Aside from showcasing festival winners across the world, IndieBo also features a slew of sidebars including docus, children’s movies, horror, Colombian films and virtual reality showcase IndieBox. Master classes also form part of the program.

IndieBo is co-founded by actress-model Paola Turbay, her husband Alejandro Estrada and head programmer Juan Carvajal, who together ran the Colombia Film Festival in New York for the past three years. It has reported sold-out screenings, and is projecting 25,000 total admissions; 3,000 people attended Indiebox alone over its first four days.

“We want our festival to be truly inclusive; to democratize culture,” said Turbay, who spoke of outdoor screenings in parks and reduced ticket prices, among other efforts.

The Bogota Intl. Film Fest (BIFF) (Oct. 9-17) is led by former Proimagenes projects head Andres Bayona (above left with programmers Raymond Phathanavirangoon, Rebeca Conget and Javier Martin), who has compiled a team of programmers with experience in Cannes and Berlin, and an executive committee comprised of heavy hitters in Colombia’s audiovisual industry including Caracol TV, giant exhib/distrib Cine Colombia and the Bogota Chamber of Commerce.

“Bogota is a very cultivated city that already hosts a variety of arts events, including books, theater and music,” said Bayona. “Launching BIFF is a response to an intellectual demand that already exists.” Aimed at Bogota’s predominantly young inhabitants — the median age in the city is 25 — BIFF has chosen to launch during the fall break of schools. It aims to screen pics across the city in order to bring the films closer to its target audience.

Whether all three festivals can thrive in a relatively small market remains to be seen. “I think we should coexist; it’s not a competition,” said Turbay.

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