Colombian Ciro Guerra’s ‘Embrace of the Serpent’ Sweeps the 3rd Platino Awards

Madrid to host 2017 Platino Awards 

Sundance 2016 Feature and Documentary Premieres
Courtesy of Sundance Film Festival

PUNTA DEL ESTE, Uruguay — Making good on its Academy Award nomination, Ciro Guerra’s “Embrace of the Serpent” swept the 3rd Platino Ibero-American Film Awards on Sunday night in Uruguay, winning in seven of the eight categories for which it was up for a prize.

Opening Uruguay’s new Punta del Este Convention Center, the 2016 Platinos will go down as serving further and perhaps final kudos recognition for a title which also won the top prize at Cannes’ 2015 Directors’ Fortnight and the Sloan Award at this year’s Sundance Fest, consolidating Guerra’s reputation as one of the most exciting and original talents working out of Latin America today, after two features which garnered acclaim at Cannes (“Wandering Shadows,” “The Wind Journeys”), but hardly the international resonance of “Embrace of the Serpent.”

Though the awards had no clear favourite, “Embrace of the Serpent,” with “Ixcanul,” had scored the most nominations and its plaudit sweep did not seem to surprise many journalists in the Platino Awards press room on Sunday night.

Shot in widescreen in 35 mm and in black and white “Serpent’s” awards took in best picture, director, editing (Etienne Boussac, Cristina Gallego), art direction (Angélica Perea), original music (Nascuy Linares), cinematography (the film was shot in David Gallego) and sound (Carlos García, Marco Salavarría).

The story of Karamakate, a shaman who is the last survivor of his tribe and asked, 30 years apart, by two explorers – based on the figures of Theodor Koch-Gruenberg and Richard Evans Schultes – to help them discover the yakuna plant, “Embrace of the Serpent” charts the devastation of the Amazon by colonial powers, whether Colombian rubber companies or a crazed Spanish priest, but more particularly the loss of indigenous knowledge as whole peoples disappeared under the influx of invasion.

“The ravages of colonialism cast a dark pall over the stunning South American landscape in ‘Embrace of the Serpent,’ the latest visual astonishment from the gifted Colombian writer-director Ciro Guerra,” Variety wrote in its Cannes review.

“Embrace of a Serpent” is co-produced between Colombia (Ciudad Lunar Producciones, Caracol Televisión, Dago García Producciones), Argentina (Buffalo Films, MC Producciones) and Venezuela (Norte Sur Producciones), near all of whom have signed on for Guerra next feature, “Birds of a Passage,” also sold by Berlin-based sales company Films Boutique.

Ciro Guerre’s third movie has won a string of significant festival, Academy and pan Latin American awards, including a Mexican Silver Ariel, Fénix Film Awards, and plaudits at the Mar del Plata and Palm Springs fests, among others.

Platino acting awards went to two Argentine talents who most certainly deserve wider recognition, Dolores Fonzi, star of Santiago Mitre’s Cannes Critics’ Week winner “Paulina,”) who plays a young lawyer who refuses to compromise her principles when raped while working as a rural teacher, and Guillermo Francella, who portrays a real-life family patriarch and psychopath in Pablo Trapero’s “The Clan,” who continues for personal profit Argentina’s Dirty War practice of kidnapping and murder after the fall of Argentina’s military junta.

A third Argentine actor, Ricardo Darin, took the Platino Lifetime Achievement Award. “We have the talent. We just need to have confidence in ourselves,” Darin said on stage, receiving the plaudit. ”That’s why we and Ibero-America need these awards,” he added.

A searing but crafted indictment of the tribulations of a young pregnant and unmarried girl in rural Guatemala, Berlin Silver Bear winner “Ixcanul,” the feature debut of Jayro Bustamante, once more confirmed its audience appeal, at least with the who have seen it, taking the Platinos’ Audience Award, plus best first feature. Film Factory sold the social issue drama-thriller around the world off its Berlin Fest win.

The 3rd Platino Awards Gala was M.C.ed by Natalia Oreiro (“The German Doctor,” “Gilda”) and Spanish director-actor Santiago Segura, creator of the “Torrente” movie series, Spain’s most significant film franchise, with help from Adal Ramones

Madrid will be host 2017’s 4th Platino Awards, their organisers announced at this year’s event.

Broadcast by TNT, the ceremony will reach more than 100 million homes, according to Enrique Cerezo, president of  Spain’s EGEDA producers rights collection society, which organizes the event, alongside FIPCA, the Ibero-American Federation of Film and Audiovisual Producers, with the support of the region’s film academies.

Peace Nobel Prize winner Rigoberta Menchú adjudicated the new Platino Award Cine y Educación en Valores to Anna Muylaert’s “The Second Mother,” Brazil’s 2015 Oscar entry.

Inspired by the Oscars and Grammys, the Platino Awards aim to boost cooperation between Latin American countries, extend the international reach  of their movies and create pan-regional star-system.

“Penélope Cruz is known worldwide. But the Audience Award went to Guatemala’s ‘Ixcanul,’ which will be important for the movie to be known in many places,” Cerezo told Variety.

“A non-profit organisation, Egeda aims to integrate the region’s sector beyond the training programs that we offered. We set up the Platino Awards. And from there, why not to build a big platform for all Latin-American cinema –most of it digitized? TVs know the Awards, but not the movies,” ventured Egeda CEO Miguel Ángel Benzal.

In the run-up to the Platino Awards, Uruguay’s Egeda –in cooperation with the Uruguayan Film and Audiovisial Institute (Icau) and Uruguay’s producers org Asoprod– celebrated a panel to analyze potential new public sector incentive for Uruguay’s film industry. Those in Colombia and the Dominican Republic, incorporating the most significant rebates in Latin America for local and international productions, were presented by their film authority representatives.

“We’re now at a time of reflection, in order to adopt new measures and improve our system,” Martin Papich, director of Uruguay’s National Film Institute told Variety.

John Hopewell contributed to this report


And the winners are:


“Embrace of the Serpent,” (Colombia, Argentina, Venezuela)


Ciro Guerra (“Embrace of the Serpent”)


Guillermo Francella (“The Clan,” Argentina, Spain)


Dolores Fonzi (“Paulina,” Argentina)


Nascuy Linares (“Embrace of the Serpent”)


“Capture the Flag,” (Enrique Gato, Spain)


“The Pearl Button,” (Patricio Guzmán, Chile, Spain)


Pablo Larraín, Guillermo Calderón, Daniel Villalobos (“The Club”)


“Ixcanul” (Jayro Bustamante, Guatemala, France)


Etienne Boussac, Cristina Gallego (“Embrace of the Serpent”)


Angélica Perea (“Embrace of the Serpent”)


David Gallego (“Embrace of the Serpent”)


Carlos García, Marco Salavarría (“Embrace of the Serpent”)


Ricardo Darín


“The Second Mother,” (Anna Muylaert, Brazil)



“Ixcanul,” (Guatemala, France)


Penélope Cruz (“Ma ma,” Spain)


Ricardo Darín (“Truman,” Spain, Argentina)