Colombia’s film industry is one of the strongest in the region, with several films getting international attention in recent years. In 2016, El abrazo de la serpiente (Embrace of the Serpent), a film about an indigenous Amazonian shaman who is the last of his people, was nominated for an Oscar for the Best Foreign Language Film. The 2004 drama María Llena Eres de Gracia (María Full of Grace) follows the story of a pregnant, 17-year-old girl working in a flower plantation who quits her job to become a drug mule. The film earned Catalina Sandino Moreno a Best Actress nomination at the Academy Awards.
Nominated for the Palme d’Or prize at Cannes, La Vendedora de Rosas (The Rose Seller, 1998) depicts life on the streets of Medellín in the 1980s. It’s based on the story “The Little Match Girl” by Hans Christian Andersen, and shows children hawking at streetlights in areas filled with poverty and drugs. The 2009 film Los Viajes del Viento (The Wind Journeys) was shot in 80 locations around Northern Colombia, using four languages (Spanish, Palenquero, Wayuunaiki, and Ikun) while telling the story of a vallenato singer who stops playing after his wife dies.
Several of Nobel Prize–winning novelist Gabriel García Márquez’s books have been turned into films. Filmed partially in Mompós, Crónica de una Muerte Anunciada (Chronicle of a Death Foretold) tells the story of a murder in a small Magdalena river town, while Amor en los Tiempos de Cólera (Love in the Time of Cholera), released in 2007, was a big-budget Hollywood production in English, with actors Javier Bardem and Benjamin Bratt. Del amor y otros demonios (Of Love and Other Demons) was released in 2009, though it was less successful.
Colombia’s cocaine years have been well documented in film and television, as the over-the-top Netflix series Narcos will show you. Several more honest portrayals have also been attempted. The Two Escobars (2010) is a sports documentary about a soccer star with the last name Escobar who could not have been more different from the drug kingpin. Juan Pablo Escobar fled Colombia after his father’s death in 1993, becoming an architect and living in anonymity until the release of the documentary about his own life, Sins of My Father, in 2009. Killing Pablo: The Hunt for the World’s Greatest Outlaw (2002) is the film version of Mark Bowden’s acclaimed 2001 book following Escobar’s capture.
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