Colombian 'Birds of Passage' Wins Best Film at Cuban Festival

The Film received the highest award at the 40th International Festival of New Latin American Cinema.

The Colombian film "Pajaros de Verano" (or Birds of Passage), directed by Cristina Gallego and Ciro Guerra, was crowned with the Coral prize for the best fiction film at the 40th International Festival of New Latin American Cinema held in Havana, Cuba.

RELATED: Havana Film Festival in Cuba Opens With Film About Jose Mujica

"Pajaros de Verano" is a story set in the seventies, when the cultivation and sale of marijuana brought enormous wealth, and also decadence, to some families of the Wayuu indigenous community in the Colombian department of La Guajira.

The film, which was presented at the Directors' Fortnight at the 2018 Cannes Film Festival and has been shortlisted to represent Colombia at the Oscars, also received the Coral prize for best original music at the Havana Festival.


According to Jenn Sepulveda, a Colombian film critic, the film's success stems from its ability to become something more than an ethnographic description.

Its plot reconstructs the socio-cultural scenario faced by a couple of foreigners who came to La Guajira looking for cannabis. Their search, which might seem simple and trivial, ends up leading to drug trafficking, a business that merges power, violence, and death.

The story unfolds between 1975 and 1985, a time when Colombia went through episodes of violence derived from the competition between marijuana producers and cocaine traffickers.

"We looked for a feminine perspective for a genre that always tells its stories from the male voice. We looked for those silent stories they had not told us," Gallego said, as reported by Canaltrece.

‘Pájaros de verano’, la transformación del ritual

"Birds of Passage" the transformation of the ritual

At the center of that story is Ursula Pushaima, a character who embodies the female perspective from the Guajira, a matriarchal community in which strong, empowered women face everyday life within a conservative, macho society.

The film is infused with the magical realism of a culture where the value of words influences people's relationships with the dead, dreams, and nature.

"The word is a means of negotiation. It is a way through which [the Wayuu] have been able to find peace, stability, and protection, despite not having clear rules as a community," explained the female director of "Birds of Passage."

This year’s edition of Havana Film Festival, which kicked off Thursday, will screen 333 Latin American films until Dec. 16.


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Venezuela Urges Colombia to Talk on Bilateral Issues

Venezuela insisted on Monday to open talks on bilateral issues with Colombian government and in turn strengthen border security, Foreign Minister Jorge Arreaza stressed.

During an interview to Televen private television program 'Jose Vicente Hoy,' the Foreign Minister ratified Caracas' willingness to talk, despite Bogota's evasion after three letters were sent by the Foreign Ministry to Colombia, and no answer has been received.

'We are concerned about the Colombian case, we have a very large border area, and common problems. We sent a monthly letter to Foreign Minister Carlos Holmes, where we raised the need to deal with border issues. The situation in Colombia is very complex,' Arreaza said.

'President Duque is experiencing a very complex situation, students and peasants protest and use Venezuela to distract public opinion of the immense, deep, serious and alarming problems the Colombian society has,' the foreign minister added.

He also denounced that the Colombian government insists on violating the bilateral agreements established for the orderly and voluntary return of Venezuelans through the 'Vuelta a la Patria' (Return to the Homeland) government plan.

Arreaza said that Colombia prevented on Sunday a bus carrying 42 Venezuelans to pass into Venezuela through the border area, and forced the repatriates to cross walking as an example of the most basic human rights violation, regardless of children, women and adults.

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Colombian Organizations Pay Tribute to Fidel Castro

Colombian organizations in solidarity with Cuba and workers at the Cuban Embassy in Bogota on Saturday paid a beautiful tribute to Fidel Castro, on the occasion of the second anniversary of his death on Sunday, November 25.

The ceremony took place in Las Canoas Metropolitan Park in Soacha municipality, department of Cundinamarca, some 30 kilometers from Bogota, where an oak tree was planted a year ago to honor the memory of the historic leader of the Cuban Revolution.

Fidel was an inspiring man, with a singular magnetism, someone whose presence filled the hearts of those around him, said the young Colombian Jose Luis Rodriguez, who studied in Cuba at the Latin American School of Medicine (ELAM).

The current leader of the ELAM Graduate Foundation in Colombia said that he is a member of an army in white coats founded by Fidel to bring health to the needy in Latin America and other regions of the world, including the United States.

The legacy of the Cuban revolutionary leader is in force in all ELAM doctors and the peoples of the world, who are grateful for his altruism and deep humanistic vocation, he stressed.

For her part, Ofelia Peña, president of the Association of Cuban Residents in Colombia, highlighted Fidel's greatness as a statesman and the dimension of his thought, reflected in his concept of Revolution, in which justice, equality and internationalism are pondered.

Cuban diplomats and representatives of the Colombian Movement of Solidarity with Cuba also referred to 'the visionary, the human being who knew with his example of struggle how to navigate the turbulent waters against the most powerful enemies that any man and nation could have'.

Also present at the rally were Cuban observers from the United Nations Mission in Colombia in charge of verifying the compliance with the Peace Agreement.

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Roger Waters Backs Students fight in Colombia

Bogota, Nov 22 (Prensa Latina) Pink Floyd Group founder, Roger Waters shook this capital not only because of his music but also his emphatic support to the students strike in demand for more resources for public education.

We need more education,' Waters stressed in a memorable concert last night at El Campín Stadium in the capital.

The artist demanded that the Colombian government provide free education for all young Colombians, while on a huge screen behind him the message 'We do need more education' was displayed with a beautiful set of lights.

Waters pointed out that those who do not understand the student struggle are people who defend the neoliberal economy and assume the needs of education with the so-called student loans.

Do you know what student loans mean? That's not the solution. We have them in the United States, where I live, and they mean a lifetime of slavery,' remarked the former member of the iconic rock band Pink Floyd.

The famous guitarist delighted rock lovers with classics such as Breathe, Wish You Were Here, Welcome to the Machine, The Wall and songs from his album 'Is This the Life We Really Want', such as Déjà Vu, The Last Refugee and Picture That.

One of the most magical moments during the imposing show was when we listened to The Happiest Days of Our Lives, accompanied by a beautiful choreography of children and young people wearing T-shirts that had the word RESIST engraved on them.

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Matar a Jesus, Winner of the Macondo Awards in Colombia

Film Matar a Jesus, premium film by Colombian Laura Mora, was the big winner in this capital of the 2018 Macondo Awards, winning five out of 11 nominations.

The film won the categories of Best Film, Best Direction, Best Screenplay, Best Sound and Best Supporting Actor for Camilo Escobar.

The film, which is also a candidate from Colombia to Goya, recounts the life of Paula (Natasha Jaramillo), a 22-year-old girl who knows her father's murderer and decides to take justice into her own hands.

The movie was filmed with non-professional actors for 36 days in the city of Medellin, where the father of the filmmaker was murdered in 2002.

'This is a film that invites the recognition of the other at a very relevant moment in our political history where we have to recognize ourselves,' said its director, whose debut has received multiple awards around the world in the last year.

The film Virus Tropical won the Macondo for Best Animation, Best Original Song for Adriana Garcia Galan and popularity; while Amazona was selected as Best Documentary and received two other awards: Best Original Music and Best Editing.

On the other hand, Amalia la Secretaria, directed by Andres Burgos, was the winner in the categories of Best Leading Actress for Marcela Benjumea, Best Lead Actor for Enrique Carriazo and Best Supporting Actress for Patricia Tamayo.

The film Sal won the categories of Best Direction of Photography for David Gallego, Best Costume and Best Art Direction for Marcela Gomez.

The annual gala of the Colombian Academy of Cinematographic Arts and Sciences also awarded two prizes to the production Siete Cabezas: Best Makeup and Best Visual Effects.

The Macondo de Honor Prize was awarded to the actor Alvaro Rodriguez, for his long professional career in the seventh art.

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Cuban outfielder Santos to play in Colombian Professional Baseball League

Cuban Roel Santos, member of the last national squads, signed a contract to play this season with the Barranquilla Caimanes, team of the Colombian Professional Baseball League (LCBP by its Spanish acronym).

For the outstanding player from the Cuban eastern province of Granma, this is another great challenge in his career after participating in the Canadian-American League (Can-Am) and the Japanese Professional League (NPB), he told JIT sports publication.

This will be a very intense tournament with two months of competition, until December 30, but if the team qualifies to postseason, Santos will remain there during the month of January.

The 2018-19 LCBP season starts today, and will be two intense months of competition, but I am ready to take on the challenge, Santos said.

Los Barranquilla Caimanes´ headquarter is the Edgar Renteria stadium, same venue that hosted the baseball event in the past Central American and Caribbean Games, and has nine LCBP titles, although they have not been crowned since the 2015-2016 season.

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Colombian Gov't Must Find 83,000 Disappeared Persons: Red Cross

The ICRC asked the Colombian government to implement more effective measures to prevent further disappearances.

The International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) has urged the new Colombian government to search for the over 83,000 people who disappeared in the country, in commemoration of the International Day of the Disappeared, which takes place every Aug. 30.

RELATED: Colombia: FARC Demands Meeting With Duque Over Peace Accords

The head of the ICRC delegation in Colombia, Christoph Harnisch, has highlighted that "The new Government headed by Ivan Duque) must make an effort to prioritize the search for missing persons and ensure that (everything is done to ensure that the families have a response."

The Unit for the Search of Disappeared People (UBPD) was created as part of the peace accords between the Colombian Government and the now political party Revolutionary Alternative Forces of the Commons (FARC) which was signed in 2016. Luz Marina Monzon, director of the UBPD, asserted that political will is needed because families are yet to receive any response.

"The creation of the UBPD and the ratification by the Constitutional Court of its extrajudicial and humanitarian character are in themselves positive steps, however, we expected the advances to be much faster," Harnisch said, while addressing the over 83,000 forced disappearance cases, that took place between 1958 and 2017, during the armed conflict in Colombia.

Harnisch also highlighted the importance of having human and financial resources in order to work effectively, in the territories and with the families, in the search process.

Colombia's newly installed right-wing government of President Ivan Duque has filed draft legislation ordering that "under no circumstances" should investigative bodies such as the Special Jurisdiction for Peace or the Truth Commission be allowed access to military intelligence.

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Colombia announces withdrawal from South American bloc conceived to counter US

The Colombian president has said a letter has been sent to the Union of South American Nations (UNASUR) announcing his country's withdrawal, meaning Bogota will officially cut loose from the bloc in six months.

Newly sworn-in Colombian President Ivan Duque announced on Monday that his country has started a formal withdrawal process stipulated by the organization's constituent treaty, that begins with a member-state sending a written notice to the bloc's headquarters.

"Today with precise instructions, the foreign minister sent UNASUR the letter where we denounce the constituent treaty of that entity and in six months our withdrawal will be effective," Duque announced in a brief televised statement, as he followed through on his pre-election pledge to get Colombia out of the bloc, which was originally intended to foster regional integration and counter US influence when it was founded in 2008.

© Miraflores Palace

Right-wing Duque, who took office on August 7, had previously indicated that Colombia's departure from the 12-member organization was imminent.

Announcing Colombia's withdrawal on Monday, Duque claimed that the bloc of nations had failed to address a political crisis in Venezuela, which has been rocked by a wave of anti-government protests and the attempted assassination of President Nicholas Maduro earlier this year. Echoing the rhetoric of the US White House, Duque has labeled the Maduro government a "dictatorship"; he has also called the UNASUR Maduro's "greatest accomplice."

Colombia became the first and, so far, the only one of the organization's 12 members to formally leave UNASUR. In April, six countries –Argentina, Brazil, Chile, Colombia, Paraguay and Peru– suspended their membership for a period of one year, citing differences over choosing the group's secretary general.

Venezuela, Ecuador as well as Guyana, Suriname and Uruguay continue to remain full members of the bloc.

Prior to Colombia renouncing its membership, Bolivia urged Duque to reconsider his position, hailing the group as "the natural space of integration that constitutes the hallmark of the peoples of the South because we are united by our history and by Mother Earth."

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