Colombia is a land of many beauties, unfortunately often associated with some other, not so positive aspects. It offers a lot and all these things simply need to be discovered and presented to the rest of the world. Their cinematography is also very interesting and it mostly dates to the last twenty years when it flourished greatly. They often bring us difficult and serious topics about Colombian society and the way of living, from dramas to crime movies and brilliantly depict the atmosphere that rules their country. This is the list of the best Colombian movies of all time.
La cara oculta (The Hidden Face, 2011)
Thrillers from Spanish speaking countries have something that attracts the audience, they very rarely disappoint. Very clever, intriguing and creative, a bit different from the Americans we are used to, their tone is dark and gloomy and the atmosphere is often very claustrophobic. This thriller is one of the best examples of all these things mentioned.
Following the disappearance of a young woman named Belen, who left her boyfriend via a video, we slowly start to unravel a terrifying story behind everything. We are faced with a truly disturbing and scary ending. The atmosphere here is what makes this movie so worth watching.
Los viajes del viento (The Wind Journeys, 2009)
This music drama follows the story of Ignacio Carillo, an accordion player who travelled the villages of Northern Colombia for the majority of his life. Eventually, he married and settled down with his wife, leaving his nomadic life and playing behind. After the painful death of his wife, Ignacio decides never to play the accordion again and embarks on a journey to return it to its owner.
He has the company of a spirited teenager named Ferman who wants to become his apprentice. He accepts it due to his loneliness and wishes to find purpose again and together with Ferman he travels through Colombia and learns lots of new interesting things. But he doesn’t want Ferman to follow his musical steps and constantly tries to talk him out of it.
Pájaros de verano (Birds of Passage, 2018)
This crime drama takes us back to 1970 in Colombia in the centre of the hippie movement in the American society, but also at the peak of the drug business when marijuana started to be largely consummated. It is the time when Colombian farmers suddenly became businessmen and the whole production began to flourish.
We follow a Wayuu indigenous family in the Guajira desert who takes a leading role in this business and experiences the beauties of money and power. But as it always is with people, they are never satisfied and greed and passion often take the lead and start causing problems. And when pride becomes involved, too, it is certain that their family is about to face big problems that will put their lives and personal relationships at stake.
La vendedora de rosas (The Rose Seller, 1998)
One of the movies that are always on various lists of Colombian best biopics is The Rose Seller, a story loosely based on Hans Christain Andersen’s “The Little Match Girl”. It is a drama that follows a thirteen-year-old girl, Monica, who survives her days on the streets by selling flowers to couples in local night posts. It is Christmas time at the end of the 1990s in a poor and dangerous neighbourhood in Medellin.
It is not strange to see child beggars and vendors there and Monica soon has the company of a 10-year old Andrea who ran away from home after her mother beats her. We meet an array of other interesting characters who spend their days trying to find ways to earn money on the streets.
Satanas (Satan, 2007)
Andreas Baiz is one of the most talented and famous Colombian directors who, before Cara oculta, brought us this crime drama inspired by true events. We follow three parallel stories that take place on the night of the infamous Pozzetto Massacre. The three main protagonists are a femme-fatale who cons on rich men, a priest who is in love with his housekeeper and a tired war veteran who works as a teacher and fancies one of his students.
Their lives will become intertwined during a set of tragic events on one night. These individuals are only looking for love, hope and second chances, but their own fears, temptations and pains are standing in their way.
El abrazo de la serpiente (Embrace of the Serpent, 2015)
This internationally acclaimed movie is about the relationship of an Amazonian shaman named Karamakate and two scientists who work together over the course of forty years. Karamakate is the last survivor of his people and Theo and Evan follow him on his journey to find a sacred Amazonian plant. Theo and Karamakate started in 1909 and Evan joins him in 1940.
The majority of the movie is filmed in black and white, with some of its parts in colour, to show the intensity of the plant’s impact. It has hallucinogenic effects and it might help reveal someone’s pain while suffering from serious illnesses.
La gente de la Universal (The People at Universal, 1991)
Another movie that deals with the socio-economic aspect of Colombian life. It is a dark comedy set in an urban jungle where everyone has to take care of their own survival. Everyone thinks only about themselves and acts accordingly, no one is evil but can be very harsh and emotionless. Diogenes Hernandez owns a private agency in the centre of Bogota called Universal.
The agency is based in the same apartment he and his wife live in and his nephew Clemente works for him. At the same time, Clemente is having an affair with Diogenes’ wife, but doesn’t want to hurt his uncle’s feelings. He simply wants to make his life more interesting and meaningful.
La tierra y la sombra (Land and Shade, 2015)
This is a difficult drama about Alfonso, an old farmer who returns to his home after 17 years of being away. He needs to tend to his seriously ill son and finds himself in a situation he didn’t expect when he went away. He comes back to his old house where his ex-wife lives with his daughter-in-law and his grandson.
The picture that welcomed him is anything but optimistic, a devastating destiny in the middle of a wasteland, where everything is surrounded by sugar cane plantations. After many years of estrangement, Alfonso needs to try and adapt to his new environment and try and save his family.
El olvido que seremos (Memories of My Father, 2020)
This historical drama gives us an insight into the life of an author who recalls a life with his father, a college professor. His father was a beloved teacher who fought for equality and promoted tolerance and human rights in Colombia. But since he was a thorn in someone’s side, he ended up killed by Colombian paramilitaries.
We follow a warm and emotional story of a son who describes his family story and introduces us to all the circumstances around the killing of his father. This drama has it all, an interesting story, it is filled with emotions and funny moments that might make us think of our family and the connections we have with its members.
Rodrigo D. No futuro (Rodrigo D. No Future, 1990)
Rodrigo is a troubled teenager who lives in a poor neighbourhood in Medellin, surrounded by scenes of violence and chaos. He is a troubled young man who deals with all his demons and despair by playing the drums in a punk band. After the death of his mother, he simply lost the will to do anything meaningless.
He skips school, avoids helping his father and sister, and doesn’t play football or go to church. The only thing that keeps him going is music, but due to the severe living conditions, he can’t afford a proper instrument. Rodrigo doesn’t see a way out of his horrible situation and plans on doing something unthinkable.
La estrategia del caracol (The Strategy of the Snail, 1993)
This interesting comedy-drama follows a group of people living in an abandoned house who are faced with the owner’s decision to force them to move out. After several unsuccessful attempts of staying and not being evicted, they have nothing else to do but move. But one of them comes up with a cunning plan that will take all of them to be willing to be part of.
This movie talks about the great discrepancy between the rich and the poor in Colombian society. Its characters are versatile and form a mosaic of different personas, with different political views and ideologies. But their story and life situation can be transferred to any part of the world and that’s why this comedy is so beloved. It is close to a “small” man who needs to adapt to the society and circumstances around him.
Los colores de la montana (The Colors of the Mountain, 2010)
Manual is nine years old and dreams of becoming a goalkeeper. He lives somewhere in the countryside and spends his days playing with an old ball and his dreams seem to become reality when his father Ernest gives him a new ball. But he loses his ball very soon when it gets lost in a minefield. Manuel doesn’t want to deal with the situation and wants to get his ball back, at any cost, regardless of the danger he might get himself in.
He convinces his friends to come with him and find the ball. While we are witnessing the adventures of a child and his comrades and hope they will manage to do what they planned to, there are some more serious things happening in the lives of the inhabitants of Manuels’ small village. Signs of a military conflict can be seen everywhere.