Colombiage 08

16-19 october 2008

Riverside Studios, London

Colombiage website

With a whole weekend of talks, music, food and literature to take in, cinema was just one part of this Colombian cultural festival based at the Riverside Studios in Hammersmith. The event began in 2007 and aims to display the richness of contemporary Colombian arts.

The film programme reflected the growing strength of Colombian film production. Directed by Felipe Martí­nez and a massive success in its home country, Bluff was a confident comedy/thriller with an inventive plot and some neat twists. There may be a Hollywood genre at the bottom of this but the film drew life from local nuances and a colloquial flavour and in that respect recalled Nine Queens from Argentina. In Bluff we got a nice line in insouciant cruelty from the soap opera diva Alexandra (Catalina Aristizábal), plus a great performance from Luis Eduardo Arango as the petulant and impulsive detective Walter Montes.

Felipe Guerrero’s documentary, Paraí­so, demonstrated a different kind of confidence. Presenting images of Colombia stripped of context and commentary, it relied on the strength of the imagery and its abstracted soundtrack. This dislocated and poetic approach evoked overpowering aromas of pain, memory and humour, especially in its wry spoken conclusion.

Other films shown at the event included the highly recommended Wandering Shadows (La Sombra del caminante), the 2004 debut of director of Ciro Guerra, and Satanas, an exploration of morality and human behaviour based on the novel by Mario Mendez.

Certainly Columbiage was a triumph in terms of presenting film from this often-neglected, or at least misrepresented, country. It was also the perfect appetiser for the Discovering Latin America film festival which kicks off in London on November 27.

Nick Dutfield

The Discovering Latin America film festival runs from November 27 to December 11 in London. For more details, visit the DLA website.