CARTAGENA, COLOMBIA — Attendance was off at the 42nd annual Cartagena International Film and TV Festival, with many directors and other participants canceling at the last minute in light of the worsening political crisis and rising specter of violence in Colombia.
The week-long fest wrapped March 9. Special guests who made the trek to this historic Caribbean city included Harry Belafonte and Danny Glover, who both advised local filmmakers to use the situation to further their own work.
However, locally financing is tough to come by and official support is diminishing. Last year, just six films received grants from the National Cinematography Fund (which is falls under the Ministry of Culture).
In 2001, six directors received handouts to help bring their films to the post-production stage. With all available government finances currently being used to aid the fight against terrorism, the amount of funding available for 2002 is just under US$500,000.
“What we have to do nowadays is tell our own stories, those which interest us; we are living in difficult times and remaining silent is dangerous,” says Glover, “I am a social realist…many of my films are ways of creating a vision of the world in which I want to live and in which I want my children want to live.” Glover says his own projects include one about the Haitian revolution and another on the massacres in Rwanda in the 1990’s.
Local helmer Jorge Ali Triana notes that the conflict in Colombia permeates every aspect of life here, right down to the language in everyday use. We live in a country of fiction — the fantastical language we use is straight out of the theater. Our politicians talk about a theater of operations, the actors in the armed conflict, the protagonists. ,” he says.
Triana preemed his “Bolivar Soy Yo” (I am Bolivar) at the fest outside official competition. Loosely based on the life of Simon Bolivar, the liberator of South America, pic takes a rather irreverent look at the current political climate and was well received by crix. Chilean and Brazilian productions dominated the awards, with Brazilian director Luis Fernando Carvalhos “To the Left of the Father” taking the top prize for best film.