Back to IndieWire

Coming to the AFI FEST 2015: ‘Embrace of the Serpent’

Coming to the AFI FEST 2015: 'Embrace of the Serpent'

From Latin America “Embrace of The Serpent” (“El Abrazo De La
Serpiente”) is a coproduction of Colombia, Venezuela and Argentina.

This is a favorite film
of mine and is the Colombian contender for Best Foreign Language Oscar
nomination by Colombia’s Ciro Guerra whose past film “The Wind Journeys” also captured
an existence far from our own reality. 
This film and the Venezuelan contender “Gone with the River” by
Mario Crespo are the first shot in the Amazonian rainforest in over 30 years.

Embrace of the Serpent” premiered in the
Directors’ Fortnight section of the 2015 Cannes Film Festival, where it was
awarded the top prize, the CIACE Art Cinema Award. It also screened at the TIFF
this September.

It signals a new trend in world cinema, the stories
of indigenous people from their particular points of view.  While Sundance has been supporting Native
Cinema for many years, now world festivals are also featuring them in greater
numbers.

Both blistering and poetic, the ravages of
colonialism cast a dark shadow over the South American landscape. “Embrace Of The Serpent” is the third
feature by Ciro Guerra.

Filmed in stunning black-and-white, the film
centers on Karamakate, an Amazonian shaman and the last survivor of his people,
and the two scientists who, over the course of 40 years, build a friendship
with him.

The film was inspired by the real-life journals of
two explorers (Theodor Kock-Grünberg and Richard Evan Schultes) who traveled
through the Colombian Amazon during the last century in search of the sacred
and difficult-to-find psychedelic Yakruna plant.

The film screens at AFI on November 6 at 6:30 PM and on November 9 at 1:00 PM

AFI programmer Landon Zakheim describes the film
here:

The shaman Karamakate waits warily by the edge of
the river as a German explorer approaches. The stranger seeks the Yakuna, a
legendary rare flower that can cure the man of his mysterious sickness. Only
the shaman knows its location, hidden deep within the recesses of the Colombian
Amazon, but he is distrustful. It is white men who made him the last of his
tribe. But the explorer knows of others of his kind, and so a perilous bargain
is struck. Shifting between these events in 1909 and 40 years later, when an older
Karamakate brings another foreigner on the same journey through a ravaged jungle…
Ciro Guerra’s masterful use of monochromatic black-and-white, symbolic
landscapes, overwhelming soundscapes and haunting, elliptical editing blend
together to elevate ethnographic odyssey into a hypnotic and methodical work of
pure cinema.

It will be released stateside by Oscilloscope in
New York on Wednesday, February 17 and in Los Angeles on Friday, February 19,
with a national rollout to follow.

International Sales Agent
Films Boutique has sold to Natyls for Denmark, Diaphana for France,
Magyarhangya for Hungary, trigon-film for Switzerland.

Director: Ciro Guerra

Screenwriter: Ciro
Guerra, Jacques Toulemonde Vidal

Producer: Cristina
Gallego

Executive Producer:
Cristina Gallego, Raúl Bravo, Marcelo Céspedes, Horacio Mentasti, Esteban
Mentasti

Director of Photography:
David Gallego

Editor: Cristina Gallego,
Etienne Boussac

Production Designer: Angélica
Perea

Music: Nascuy Linares

Cast: Jan Bijvoet,
Brionne Davis, Nilbio Torres, Antonio Bolívar, Yauenkü Miguee

Colombia | Venezuela |
Argentina, 2015

122 min.

Feature

World Cinema Section

A program of the American Film Institute, AFI
FEST presented by Audi is a celebration of global cinema and today’s Hollywood.  It is an opportunity for master
filmmakers and emerging artists to come together with audiences in the movie
capital of the world.  AFI FEST is the only festival of its stature that
is free to the public.  The Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences
recognizes AFI FEST as a qualifying festival for both Short Film categories for
the annual Academy Awards®. 

Connect with AFI FEST at facebook.com/AFIFEST,
twitter.com/AFIFEST
and youtube.com/AFIFEST.

Free tickets: 
http://afi.com/afifest/freetickets.aspx

This Article is related to: Festivals and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , ,