July 24, 2021

Five documentaries about war and peace in Colombia | Culture

Five documentaries about war and peace in Colombia | Culture

In the long dialogues of peace between the Government of Colombia and the FARC, the rifles always had an enormous symbolic weight. The one that was the oldest and most powerful guerrilla in America refused to allow itself to be photographed, surrendering its weapons, and preferred to refer to the disarmament process as "abandonment", to make it clear that it was not a mere submission. The Colombians, who half a century after an entangled armed conflict had to join four years of negotiations in Havana, could not see that image. On the other hand, since this month you can witness his casting in the documentary that is an integral part of Fragments, the "countermonument" that the artist Doris Salcedo created with the metal of the weapons that the ex-combatants delivered.

The emotional film that accompanies the process of creating the work is also titled Fragments. It shows the transfer of more than 6,000 armed guerrillas from the jungles and mountains of Colombia to the areas where they began their transit to legality. Also the route of the white containers with letters of the UN, full of unused weapons, and the trucks that took them to the place where it was melted, all in the middle of a strict chain guarded by the National Police. In addition to registering how the weapons burn, the images show the testimonies of the 20 women victims of sexual violence, of all the armed actors, to whom Doris Salcedo invited to shape, hammered, the 1,300 metal plates that make up that memory space.

Fragments closes a cycle In the two years since the signing of the peace agreement, the cinema has sought to capture that decisive moment in history. The inauguration of the work at the beginning of December coincided with the exhibition in movie theaters of The negotiation, the latest in a series of documentaries dedicated to exploring the peace process that was sealed in November 2016 by President Juan Manuel Santos and Rodrigo Londoño, Timochenko, leader of the FARC, at the Teatro Colón in Bogotá. Some as The silence of the rifles Y To end a war, The first stories to be presented in 2017 focused on the dialogues in Havana, while Ciro and me accompanies an emblematic victim of the multiple violence that has crossed the country. A review of five different views of war and peace in Colombia.

'The silence of the rifles' (2017)

The explosions and the shots resound with all their shocking power since the beginning of the documentary by Colombian journalist Natalia Orozco. "I thought it was very important to remind Colombians that for 50 years those bullets, bombings, was what many Colombians heard that left very little on television," explains the director, who addresses the most critical moments of the dialogues. Havana, until the original signature in Cartagena, and decides not to delve into the crisis caused after the defeat of the plebiscite to endorse the agreement.

The film brings together an exhaustive mosaic of voices, ranging from guerrilla leaders to negotiators and mediators. "Whenever we get up from the table of conversations we have told them we will see five thousand dead", he is heard saying in the first moments, dressed in camouflage, Pablo Catatumbo, who today occupies in Congress one of the ten seats that the agreement guarantees to the extinct guerrilla. He is the protagonist of some of the most powerful moments.

It was the first story to reach the screens, even before the FARC's weapons were in the hands of the UN, when it inaugurated in March 2017 the International Film Festival of Cartagena de Indias. Both President Santos and negotiators from both sides attended the premiere. Orozco, who recorded almost 400 hours, claims to have also been the first documentary camera to have landed in Havana, as well as his independence. In these two years he has toured different territories of deep Colombia to exhibit a documentary with a pedagogical spirit, "not only to understand the horror of war, but the great value of building and betting on peace."

'To end a war' (2017)

Another of the early films about conversations in Havana is that of British filmmaker Marc Silver, who obtained almost intimate access to many of the protagonists, and even manages to mount his camera in the armored car of President Santos. With music by the Argentine Gustavo Santaolalla, a careful photography and a more artistic approach, Silver also gained unlimited access in the X Conference of the FARC in the Llanos del Yarí, the last one in arms, in September 2016, and in several passages, he visits the guerrilla camps in the jungle thickets.

"I did not want to make a movie of data and interviews, I suspected that other people were doing that", Silver counted at the time. To a large extent, he channels his story through Jorge Enrique Botero, a seasoned reporter who spent decades crossing rivers and mountains to cover the war in Colombia. "There are many colleagues who simply qualify me as the journalist of the FARC (…) but I have dared to go to the other side, and they have not dared," says the journalist on the screen.

'Ciro and I' (2018)

The acclaimed documentary by Colombian Miguel Salazar, released at the beginning of the year that concludes, follows one of many victims of the armed conflict in Colombia: Ciro Galindo. "Wherever he has gone, war has found him," says the director at the beginning of his intimate portrait of violence.

Ciro and me narrates the life and misfortunes of this peasant, his three sons and his wife, besieged by all: Army, guerrillas and paramilitaries. Salazar met Ciro when he traveled in 1996 to photograph Caño Cristales, the famous river of seven colors, a spot in the Sierra de La Macarena where his protagonist was a forest ranger. That region was part of the distension zone, as it was known the territory cleared by the authorities to dialogue with the FARC during the Government of Andrés Pastrana (1998-2002).

The tragedy of Ciro over the past twenty years is triggered when the guerrillas arrive to take one of their children, and Salazar's camera accompanied him for six years, when the Victims Law was created and talks began. Havana. Towards the end of the film, with the signed agreement, Ciro expresses his conviction: "To contribute to peace, forgive me, but forget not".

'The Negotiation' (2018)

After the criticism of former president and senator Álvaro Uribe, who came to put their exhibition at risk, the documentary by journalist Margarita Martínez on the dialogues between the Government and the FARC arrived at the end of November to the Colombian movie theaters sheltered by a wave of solidarity.

The negotiation account "The intimate history of the negotiations and the entry of this guerrilla into civilian life," Martínez explained. Unlike The silence of the rifles or To end a war, the last third of the film delves into the crisis drawn after the defeat of Santos in the plebiscite to approve the original agreement, the stage in which Uribe was more vehement in his campaign against the agreement. Although the voice of the exmandatario is present in several passages through his own speeches, the uribismo bothered him that the documentary portrays him as "enemy" of some dialogues to which he always opposed. "The documentary is rigorously objective. The opinions against have been recorded in the own voice of the protagonists ", valued in his moment Humberto de La Calle, the chief negotiator of the Government, before the threat of a censorship that never materialized.

'Fragments' (2018)

When she was commissioned to make a work with the metal of more than 8,000 weapons delivered by the FARC, the sculptor Doris Salcedo decided to build an art and memory space that will have three rooms and will host exhibitions of different artists for more than half a century, the duration of the war. In one of those rooms, in the heart of Bogotá, the 20-minute documentary, directed by the Spanish journalist Mayte Carrasco, which shows the elaboration of the expected "countermonument", is permanently exhibited.

"Making the documentary has given the opportunity to see the process, the making of, of such a colossal work of art ", explains Carrasco. The film, which will be shown throughout 2019 in different festivals, not only records the path and the melting of FARC rifles, but also the catharsis of the women victims of sexual violence who forged the metal. "It's a metaphor of how fire can transform things."


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