Following the unveling of the Official Selection, news from the Cannes Film Festival (May 13-24) continues to arrive. The prestigious
Critics’ Week –aimed at discovering the world’s most interesting directors– announced the list of films to be included in the 54th edition of this event,
one of the Festival’s most important, along with the Directors’ Fortnight.
The big news for Colombia is the selection of director/screenwriter César
Augusto Acevedo‘s first film, “La Tierra y la Sombra” (Land and Shade), one of the seven feature films chosen to compete from among 1,100 submissions from
around the world. The film was produced by Jorge Forero, Paola Pérez Nieto and Diana Bustamante, partners and founding members of Burning Blue, the
production company responsible for some of the most internationally recognized films to come out of Colombia in recent years (“El vuelco del Cangrejo,” “La
Playa D.C,” “La Sirga,” “Solecito,” “Los Hongos,” “Climas,” “Refugiado,” and many others).
“La Tierra y la Sombra,” a woman refuses to give up the land she has fought to defend all her life; a son is incapable of leaving his mother, to the point of risking his own
life; a father must confront past mistakes in order to recover the loved ones he abandoned; a brave wife fights to save her family; and a child grows up in
the midst of devastation. Staged in a family microcosm –a tiny house and a tree surrounded by a formidable sugar cane filed–, the film presents the final
days of these characters intent on repairing the fragile ties that bind them as they face their own imminent demise in the overwhelming wake of progress.
Out of this situation comes a cruel story, densely populated with metaphors and allegories for culture, the fatality of alienation and oblivion, the
fragility of memory, the inevitability of family breakdown, and the solitude it provokes.
The film was produced by Burning Blue (Colombia) in co-production with Ciné-Sud Promotion (France), Tokapi Films (Holland), Rampante Films (Chile), and
Preta Portê Filmes (Brazil). In addition to director/screenwriter Cesar Acevedo, the film’s crew included cinematographer Mateo Guzmán; editor Miguel
Schverdfinger; art director Marcela Gómez; actor trainer Fátima Toledo; and soundman Felipe Rayo. The film stars Haimer Leal as Alfonso; Hilda Ruiz as
Alicia; Edison Raigosa as Alfonso’s and Alicia’s son Gerardo; Marleyda Soto as Gerardo’s wife Esperanza; and Felipe Cárdenas as Gerardo’s and Esperanza’s
According to César Acevedo: “The idea for this film was born of personal pain. At the time I began writing the screenplay my mother was dead, my father was a ghost, and given my
inability to generate memories, they seemed completely lost to me. Thus arose my need to make a film that would allow me to recover the two most important
people in my life, using the language of film. What I intended at the time was a reflection on our lives together, and what they might have been, based on
the most private, the most important elements of this relationship. I believed that only by returning to my roots would I be able to face what I’d
forgotten. This led to my decision to create a microcosm consisting of a small house and a tree, where I could somehow be reunited with those I loved most.”
That was just the beginning, however, and the film couldn’t remain tied to this initial concept with time tugging it in another direction. Acevedo
continues: “As I began writing the screenplay I realized that the house was inhabited by ghosts, who drifted through the rooms, incapable of speech, unrecognizable to
each other. It took a long time to accept that what I was trying to accomplish was impossible, simply because everything I was looking for had disappeared
with them. So I distanced myself from the original intention with the sole purpose of better developing my characters and the film’s conflict and the idea
arose of telling the story of a dysfunctional family’s attempt to repair the ties that bind them, just before being separated for good. Not only are they
forced to confront the feelings of others, but, more challenging still, they discover feelings they never knew existed, or never suspected they harbored.
Burning Blue: Spearheading the Internationalization of Colombian Cinema
After participating in the 65th Berlin Film Festival’s Forum less than two months ago with Jorge Forero’s film
“Violence,” Burning Blue is proud to announces the inclusion of
“La Tierra y la Sombra”
in the Cannes Festival’s Critics’ Week. This selection confirms Burning Blue’s role as key Colombian representative in major film events around the world.
Burning Blue’s efforts to produce daring films focusing on the value and power of stories, and construction of self-sustaining formats to achieve
significant results internationally, allowing Colombian films to be seen worldwide, are examples of the creativity and innovation in Latin America
productions and prove that Burning Blue has succeeded in asserting itself in a depressed market with a new vision that provides transcendent stories.
The successful start-up of a co-production model allowing films to work with partners in France, Germany, Poland and Holland –not to mention Latin America,
where they have co-produced with Argentina, Mexico, Chile, Peru and Brazil; the presence of the company’s films in more than 200 festivals, with commercial
releases in countries like the US, Greece, Canada, Spain, Portugal, Eastern Europe, and several African nations (as well as co-producing countries); an the
company’s presence at the Cannes Film Festival in four consecutive years (co-producers of Argentine director Diego Lerman’s
“Refugiado” in 2014; co-producers of Oscar Ruíz Navia’s short film
at the 2013 Director’s Fortnight; and producers of William Vega’s
“La Sirga” and Juan Andrés Arango’s
“La Playa D.C.” included in the 2012 Director’s Fortnight and Certain Regard sections, respectively) make Burning Blue Colombia’s most visible presence on the global film
Although Burning Blue has achieved major recognition for its films on the international market, the company aspires, above all, to participate in the
creation of films by and for Colombians and, in even more romantically ambitious terms, the creation of Latin American cinema for the Latin American
subcontinent. The stories told, therefore, speak profoundly of the continent’s many different peoples and uncover the traditions, imagery, dreams, desires, fears and
problems facing these richly diverse, passionate, and complex cultures. To this end, Burning Blue hopes to harness the favorable international attention
garnered to date to continually ignite local interest, using international platforms as a springboard to its natural audience: Colombia.
Burning Blue, led by Diana Bustamante, Jorge Forero and Paola Pérez Nieto, is currently developing the feature films
(Jaime Osorio Márquez), in co-production with Rhayuela Cine,
“Desobsesión” (Jorge Navas), and the co-production
(Fernando Guzzoni), produced for Chile’s Rampante Films.
Diana Bustamante produced Ciro Guerra’s
“Los Viajes del Viento”
(included in the 2009 Cannes Festival’s Certain Regard section) and Oscar Ruiz Navia’s
“El vuelco del cangrejo”
(2009 Toronto Film Festival premiere and Fripresci Award at the 2010 Berlinale Festival and Forum). She also designed and managed Caracol Television’s film
department from 2008 to 2012, taking more than 20 Colombian feature films from the financing to final promotion stages. She recently became the artistic
director of the Cartagena International Film Festival (FICCI), contributing to the success of the festival’s 55th edition last March, and is currently
working on the 2016 festival.
“La Tierra y la Sombra” – Nothing But Success
The process of creating and financing
“La Tierra y la Sombra”
allowed the film to mature with assistance from specialists, tutors, and evaluation committees at a number of national and international institutions and
festivals, each of them helping to move the film towards its world premiere at the upcoming Cannes Festival.
During the project’s development stage it won a development grant from Colombia’s Film Development Fund in 2009 and was selected the following year to
participate in the Pitch Workshop at Colombia’s Cali Film Festival. The project also took part in the Ibero-American Films Crossing Borders event at the
2010 Havana Film Festival and the 2012 Ibero-American Co-Production Meeting at the Huelva Film Festival in Spain.
It was, however, in 2013 that the project became a reality, winning at the Cartagena International Film Festival’s Co-Production Meeting, which made it
possible to attend the Cannes Marché Du Film. The film went on to win a Casa de las Américas Film Project Development grant from the Carolina Foundation
and a production grant from Colombia’s Film Development Fund. Also in 2013, the Hubert Bals Fund awarded the project a development grant and the San
Sebastian Film Festival selected it for the Co-Production Forum.
The final push came in 2014 when the project was invited to participate in Boost! at the Rotterdam Film Festival in Holland and received production grants
from both the Ibermedia and Hubert Bals Funds. Shooting took place in late 2014 with post-production following in early 2015 and, finally, the film’s
submission, in the company of another 1,100 feature films, to the Cannes Festival.