From the producer (Gallego) and director (Guerra) of EMBRACE OF THE SERPENT, the first Colombian film ever to be nominated for the Best Foreign Language Film Oscar®, BIRDS OF PASSAGE opened Directors’ Fortnight at the 2018 Cannes Film Festival, where it was met with glowing reviews, and went on to screen at the Telluride, Toronto, San Sebastian and BFI London film festivals. The film recently won three Fenix Film Awards, including Best Fictional Film and Best Actress, and was nominated in a total of nine categories.
Selected as Colombia’s Official Oscar® entry for Best Foreign Language Film and set to play in the 2019 Sundance Film Festival’s Spotlight program, BIRDS OF PASSAGE will be released by The Orchard on Wednesday, February 13 in New York and Friday, February 15 in Los Angeles, with a national rollout to follow.
Tracing the origins of the Colombian drug trade as it slowly corrupts a native Wayúu family, BIRDS OF PASSAGE stars Wayúu descendants Jose Acosta and Carmiña Martínez alongside rising Colombia star Natalia Reyes (of the upcoming TERMINATOR reboot) and is stunningly shot by longtime collaborator David Gallego (EMBRACE OF THE SERPENT; I AM NOT A WITCH).
BIRDS OF PASSAGE marks the directorial debut of prolific producer Gallego, who also produces the film alongside Katrin Pors and takes a Story By credit. This is the fourth feature film for co-director Guerra, who is helming the upcoming film adaptation of Nobel laureate J.M. Coetzee’s classic novel Waiting for the Barbarians starring Robert Pattinson, Mark Rylance and Johnny Depp.
Torn between his desire to become a powerful man and his duty to uphold his culture’s values, Rapayet (Acosta) enters the drug trafficking business in the 1970s to secure a dowry to marry Zaida (Reyes) and finds quick success despite the disapproval of his tribe’s matriarch, Ursula (Martínez). Ignoring ancient omens, Rapayet and his family get caught up in a conflict where honor is the highest currency and debts are paid with blood.
Cristina Gallego was born in Bogotá and studied film at the National University of Colombia before forming the production company Ciudad Lunar with Ciro Guerra in 2001. She served as producer on Guerra’s feature debut THE WANDERING SHADOWS (2004), which won awards at San Sebastian and several other film festivals and was selected for over 60 more, including Tribeca and Locarno. Gallego went on to produce and receive Additional Editing credits on Guerra’s next two films, the award-winning THE WIND JOURNEYS, which premiered as part of the Official Selection – Un Certain Regard section of the 2009 Cannes Film Festival, and 2015’s EMBRACE OF THE SERPENT. Gallego has also produced films by directors from Spain (Pedro Aguilera’s SISTER OF MINE, 2017), Palestine (Annemarie Jacir’s WAJIB, 2017) and Panama (Abner Benahim’s RUBEN BLADES IS NOT MY NAME, 2018). BIRDS OF PASSAGE, which Gallego produced and receives a Story By credit on, is her directorial debut.
Ciro Guerra studied film at the National University of Colombia and at age 21, after directing four multi-award-winning short films, he wrote and directed his first feature, THE WANDERING SHADOWS (2004). The film won awards at San Sebastian and several other film festivals and was selected for over 60 more, including Tribeca and Locarno. His second feature film, THE WIND JOURNEYS, was part of the Official Selection – Un Certain Regard section of the 2009 Cannes Film Festival and was selected in a national critics’ poll as one of the 10 most important films in Colombian cinema. Following the premiere of his award-winning third film, EMBRACE OF THE SERPENT, in the Director’s Fortnight section of the 2015 Cannes Film Festival, Guerra was named one of Variety’s 10 Directors to Watch. BIRDS OF PASSAGE is his fourth feature film.
EMBRACE OF THE SERPENT was the third Gallego-produced and Guerra-directed film to be submitted by Colombia in the Best Foreign Language Film Oscar® category. The film premiered in Directors’ Fortnight at the 2015 Cannes Film Festival, where it was awarded the top prize, the CIACE Art Cinema Award, and screened in the Spotlight section of the 2016 Sundance Film Festival, where it was awarded the Alfred P. Sloan Prize. EMBRACE OF THE SERPENT was awarded the Golden Astor at the 2015 Mar Del Plata International Film Festival, was nominated for a 2016 Film Independent Spirit Award for Best International Film, and won eight Macondo awards, Colombia’s equivalent of the Academy Awards®, including Best Film and Best Director.
“Gallego and Guerra construct the film with such a deep interest in and respect for the indigenous culture that the drug element is but the window through which they view this endangered way of life… Few films have captured quite so powerfully the tension between the old and new worlds.”
– Peter Debruge, Variety
“A fascinatingly layered study in dueling tribal codes… Moving to the dramatic and folkloric rhythms of a culture we rarely see, BIRDS OF PASSAGE more or less picks up where EMBRACE OF THE SERPENT left off, with a scalding vision of the twin ravages of capitalism and colonialism taking deep, devastating root.”
– Justin Chang, The Los Angeles Times
“This is an absolutely extraordinary film… Guerra and Gallego’s film is no dusty period piece, it is wildly alive, yet it reminds us that no matter how modern we are, there are ancient songs our forebears knew whose melodies still rush in our blood.”
– Jessica Kiang, The Playlist
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