Director Ciro Guerra has denied allegations of sexual misconduct leveled by eight women against one of Colombia’s most prominent filmmakers.
Accusations of harassment and abuse were raised in a June 24 report by Volcanicas, a Latin American feminist journal. The publication does not name the women but says it conducted direct interviews with each accuser and viewed text message exchanges and recordings that detail the alleged harassment and one instance of alleged assault.
None of the women intend to press charges, the Volcanicas article said. Their goal is to call attention to “the normalization of sexual violence in Colombia’s audiovisual industry, which hinders the professional growth of women and affects them physically and emotionally,” wrote Volcanicas editors Catalina Ruiz-Navarro and Matilde de los Milagros Londoño. The article included a transcription of their call with Guerra where they asked him to respond to the charges, which he denied.
The incidents allegedly occurred between 2013 to 2019, and are reported to have taken place at film festivals in Berlin and Cartagena as well as in New York, Mexico City, Bogota and Medellin. Some of the accusers identify themselves as actors. One was described as a costume designer.
In a statement, Guerra denied that he had participated in said encounters and vowed to take legal action, although he did not specify who he intended to sue.
“I have no other recourse but to clear my name via legal channels,” Guerra said. “I apologize to all those who are affected, to all those who have had to read these horrible, lying and malicious words, and I thank all the people who have given me their support. I ask that please, before judging me, let justice evaluate and shed a clear light on all the alleged incidents.”
Guerra made his first foray into English-language film with 2019’s “Waiting for the Barbarians,” starring Mark Rylance, Robert Pattinson and Johnny Depp. The movie premiered last year at the Venice film festival and is set for release on VOD by Samuel Goldwyn Co. on Aug. 7.
The Samuel Goldwyn Co. said in a statement, “This is the first we are hearing about accusations against Ciro Guerra. We take this very seriously and are looking into the situation.”
Guerra and his producing partner Cristina Gallego, who is his ex-wife, had been working in Mexico until the coronavirus lockdown. The two are co-directing Amazon Prime and Amblin TV’s four-part untitled Cortes and Moctezuma series starring Javier Bardem and executive produced by Gael Garcia Bernal and Diego Luna.
“It’s hurtful; it’s an incendiary article, and very difficult, but I hope he comes out of this unscathed,” Gallego told Variety.
Jacques Toulemonde, Guerra’s co-writer on “Embrace of the Serpent” and “Birds of Passage” wrote on Facebook, “I had my doubts about writing this. It hurts me a lot but it is easy and complicit to remain silent. The abuses of power, sexual abuse and harassment cannot go on, not in the film industry nor anywhere else. My sympathy will always be with the victims.”
Guerra is a well-known figure in Latin American film circles. His 2015 black-and-white Amazon-set saga, “Embrace of the Serpent,” was the first Colombian film ever to be nominated for an Academy Award.
He has been a fixture at Cannes ever since his second film, “The Wind Journeys,” competed in Cannes’ Un Certain Regard sidebar while “Embrace of the Serpent” competed in Cannes’ Directors Fortnight section in 2015. In 2019, Guerra served as Critics Week jury president.
His next film, “Birds of Passage” (which he co-directed with Gallego), premiered in Cannes’ Directors’ Fortnight before racking up awards across the festival circuit.
He also co-directed the Netflix limited series “Green Frontier” (“Frontera Verde.”)