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Cinema of Colombia

The Cinema of Colombia or Colombian Cinema refers to the historic evolution of cinematography in Colombia. The Colombian cinema has struggled to develop a solid industry throughout its history. During the beginning of the 20th century some production companies tried to maintain a level of constant production but due to lack of government support and the strong international industries ended up diminishing the initiatives. In the 1980s the government of Colombia helped to develop the state owned Cinematographic Development Company (Compania de Fomento Cinematografico FOCINE) which helped to produce some films but also struggled to maintain financially. FOCINE was liquidated in the beginning of the 1990s. In 1997 the Colombian congress approved Law 397, Article 46 or the General Law of Culture with the purpose of supporting and complementing the development of the movie industry in Colombia by creating a cinematography promotion mixed fund called Corporacion PROIMAGENES en Movimiento (PROIMAGES in motion Corporation). In 2003 Congress also approved the Law of Cinema which helped to restart the cinematographic industry in Colombia.


The history of Colombian cinema started in 1897 when the first Cinematographe arrived in the country, two years after the invention of cinematography by Auguste and Louis Lumiere in Paris. Back then the port city of Colon (in Panama but was part of Colombia), Barranquilla, Bucaramanga and later arrived to the capital Bogota where in August of that same year the cinematographe was presented in the Municipal Theater (later demolished).

First years

Soon After the introduction of the cinematographe in Colombia, the country engulfed in a civil war known as the thousand days war causing the suspension of all film productions. The first films were usually of themes portraying nature and moments of the Colombian everyday life. The exhibition of these films was dominated by the Di Domenico brothers who owned the Salon Olympia in Bogota. The Di Domenico Brothers also produced the first film documentary in Colombia called "El drama del quince de Octubre (The Drama of October the fifteenth) which was intended to celebrate the centenary of the Battle of Boyaca and also narrated the assassination of General Rafael Uribe Uribe, provoking polemic in those days.

Silent films

During the first years film producers almost exclusively portrayed nature and everyday life in their films until 1922, when the first fiction film appeared, called "Maria" (no copies of this film exist anymore). The film was directed by Maximo Calvo Olmedo an Spanish immigrant who worked as film distributor in Panama and was hired to travel to the city of Cali where he would direct and manage the film photography of this film based on the novel by Jorge Isaacs, Maria.

Another pioneer of the Colombian cinema was Arturo Acevedo Vallarino a producer and theater director from Antioquia who lived in Bogota. After the introduction and fascination foreign films caused in Colombia, theaters no longer were as profitable and Acevedo decided to found a film production company called Acevedo e Hijos (Acevedo and sons). Acevedo and sons has been longest lasting production company in Colombia and which existed from 1923 to 1946 and the only one to survive the 1930s crisis caused by the "Great Depression". Acevedo and sons produced the films "La tragedia del silencio" (The Tragedy of Silence) in 1924 and "Bajo el cielo antioqueno" (Under the sky of Antioquia) in 1928. Under the Sky of Antioquia was financed by back then local magnate Gonzalo Mejia. The film was criticized for being elitist but despite this the film had a somewhat positive acceptance among the public. Films in Colombia were mostly based on themes such as Nature, folklore and nationalism with some exceptions in literature. In 1926 the film Garras de oro (Claws of Gold) which was based on a political issue, the separation of Panama from Colombia and which criticized the role of the United States.

1930s Crisis

In 1928 the Colombian company Cine Colombia purchased the Di Domenico film studios which decided to commercialize international films only due to their financial reasons. International films were preferred before Colombian films. For this reason from 1928 until 1940 there was only one film produced in Colombia, the "Al son de las guitarras" by Alberto Santa but this was never shown in theaters. Colombians were more interested on films from "Hollywood". The Colombian film industry enthusiasts in those days did not have the finances, technology or adequate preparation to develop the national cinema. While movies in Colombia were filmed in silence films, the international industry was already exploiting the color and sound films putting the Colombian cinema in disadvantage.

In the 1940s a businessman from Bogota called Oswaldo Duperly founded the Ducrane Films and produces numerous films despite the competition faced against the Argentine and Mexican cinema which after 1931 drafted to a third position in preference among Colombians. During this time the only production company that survived was the Acevedo and sons until the year 1945.

During the 1950s Gabriel Garcia Marquez and Enrique Grau attempted to restart the industry. In 1954 both artists, a writer and a painter respectively created a surrealistic short film "La langosta azul" (The Blue Lobster). Garcia Marquez continued in the industry as a scriptwriter while Grau continued painting.

Pornomiseria cinema

The Pornomiseria (porno-misery) cinema surged during the 1970s to classify the films with a high content of poverty and human misery to make money and gain international recognition. The intention of the name was coined by film critics in Colombia, not used to criticize the content of the film but to name the style of the creators which with a poor knowledge of the subject and far from the social compromise sent these films to Europe. Films like Gamin (1978) by Ciro Duran, a documentary film about children living on the streets, which included takes without profound investigation behind the social problems and without a truthful scholarly opinion. This type of filmmaking was criticized by the Group of Cali, a group of filmmakers mainly represented by Carlos Mayolo and Luis Ospina which produced the documentary Agarrando Pueblo with an air of satire for the Pornomiseria films.

Criticism of the pornomiseria argued that these films did not treat their subject with profoundness, instead taking a superficial approach to the issues. The pornomiseria cinema was especially popular in Colombia and Brazil, where it was dubbed "pornochanchada".

Cinematographic Fomenting Company (FOCINE)

On July 28, 1978 the Compania de Fomento Cinematografico (FOCINE) (Cinematographic Fomenting Company) through Decree 1924 of this same year is established to administer the Cinematographic Fomenting Fund which had been created a year after, in 1977. FOCINE was first adjudicated to the Colombian Ministry of Communications which in a period of ten years supported 29 films and a number of short films and documentaries. Corruption in the administration led to the closing of FOCINE 1993. During this period the productions of Carlos Mayolo transcended and introduced new forms of film making into the Colombian cinema with the exploration of unconventional languages. Gustavo Nieto Roa helped to develop comedies with an influence from the Mexican cinema.

During the last decade of the 20th Century, the Colombian government liquidated FOCINE forcing film makers to co-produce films with other countries, mainly from Europe and private capital investors. Despite this some important productions developed such as "La estrategia del caracol" by Sergio Cabrera which won numerous international prizes and awakening a national interest on national films. Another successful film director and producer was Victor Gaviria who with a social theme created La Vendedora De Rosas also gaining national and international good reviews among many other successes such as "Bolivar soy yo" by Jorge Ali Triana.

Law of Cinema

In 2003 the Colombian government passed the Law of Cinema which standardized help for the local cinema production. Numerous productions were sponsored by the government generating a success in the local box office such as "Sonar no Cuesta Nada" by Rodrigo Triana with one million two hundred thousand spectators, at the moment an attendance without precedents in Colombia or the film "El colombian dream" by Felipe Aljure which achieved a technical innovations and a narrative never used in the Colombian cinema.

Law 814 of 2003, also known as the Law of Cinema was approved after a second debate in the Colombian senate. The senate established the funding of the Colombian cinema through taxes collected from distributors, exhibitors and film producers. The collection was set up to be destined to support film producers, short films documentaries and public project. Funds collected are administered by the PROIMAGENES Cinematographic Production Mix Fund.

During the second term of President Alvaro Uribe Velez the government presented a tax reform to cut funding to the Law of Cinema, the president was criticized for thisColombian newspaper El Tiempo, printed edition of August 20, 2006, pages 2.1 and 2.2 but the minister of Culture Elvira Cuervo de Jaramillo lobbied in the Ministry of Finance to impede this law into affecting the financial resources destined to the Colombian cinema. The minister of Finance agreed to protect the benefits for the film industry.

International projection

The Colombian cinema has had a very low presence in international events. Despite this some documentaries during the 1970s had relative success such as "Chircales" (1972) by Marta Rodriguez and Jorge Silva, which won international prizes and recognition.

During the 1990s gained notoriety after his film "La estrategia del caracol" (the strategy of the snail) and Victor Gaviria with his films "[[Rodrigo D: No futuro]]" (1990) and "La Vendedora De Rosas" (1998) which was nominated for a Palme d'Or at the Cannes Film Festival.

In the 2000s actress Catalina Sandino Moreno was nominated for an Academy Award for her acting in the Colombian American production Maria full of Grace. She also was nominated for best female acting at the Berlin International Film Festival in 2004 and won, sharing it with actress Charlize Theron.

Documentary films

Documentary productions in Colombia have varied in quality. Nevertheless they have not seen wide distribution due to barriers which the cinematic industry imposes regarding exhibition and distribution of material. Viewers interested in approaching these audiovisual materials are rare.

During the 1970s, in the city of Cali there was a great "boom" not only in film but in the arts in general. At that time the Grupo de Cali was formed, which would include Carlos Mayolo, Luis Ospina, Andres Caicedo, Oscar Campo and other documentarists and directors who portrayed in the moving image a particular sense of place and reality. At the same time, documentarists like Marta Rodriguez and Jorge Silva produced a seemingly unending array of documentary images that approached anthropology, portraying forms of life and realities unknown to many.

Animated film

The development of animated film in Colombia, as in the rest of Latin America, has been slow and irregular, and it is only in recent years that animation has begun to gain in importance. The first initiatives in the country were generated around the 1970s, especially in the production of television commercials. Nonetheless it was at the end of this decade that Fernando Laverde, considered the pioneer of stop motion animation in Colombia,Patrimonio filmico colombiano, Perfil de Fernando Laverde used experimental methods and limited resources to create short animated pieces that received national and international recognition. During the 1980s, Bogota native Carlos Santa explored the world of animated film through plasticine art, reaching new heights in 1988 with the support of FOCINE and the release of his film El pasajero de la noche, and in 1994 he released La selva oscura at the Caracas film festival. Both films received critical recognition for their artistic and narrative merits. In the first decade of the 21st century there has been renewed activity in Colombian animation thanks to the interest of a new generation in this genre and the emergence of new technology; in 2003 the animated full-length film Bolivar the Hero was released, and the LOOP festival of animation and video games was born, where the work of Colombian and Latin American animators is encouraged and awarded.

Film festivals

Many film festivals take place in Colombia, but the two most important are the Cartagena Film Festival functioning every year since 1960 presenting Latin American and Spanish movies and the Bogota Film Festival.

Shows and distribution

In Colombia there are four major commercial movie theatre chains: Cine Colombia, Cinemark, Procinal and Royal Films among many other independent movie theaters like the Cinemateca Distrital de Bogota and Los Acevedos in the Museo de Arte Moderno de Bogota.

Openings in Colombia

See also

List of Colombian films

Cartagena Film Festival

Bogota Film Festival

External links

Fundacion Patrimonio Filmico Colombiano

Fondo Mixto de Promocion Cinematografica PROIMAGENES en Movimiento

Cinemateca Distrital de Bogota

Movie Theater of Los Acevedo in the Museum of Modern Arts of MAMBO

Law of Cinema

Cartagena Film Festival

Bogota Film Festival

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This article is licensed under the GNU Free Documentation License. It uses material from the Wikipedia article Cinema of Colombia

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