The Colombian Academy of Cinematography Arts and Sciences has picked Cristina Gallego and Ciro Guerra’s “Birds of Passage” as Colombia’s Official Entry in the Best Foreign Language Film Oscar category. Billed as “a sprawling epic about the erosion of tradition in pursuit of material wealth,” the film premiered as the Opening Night selection of the Directors’ Fortnight section of the 2018 Cannes Film Festival. It will next screen at TIFF.
The film is the second effort by Guerra and Gallego to serve as Colombia’s Oscar submission — their previous film, “Embrace of the Serpent,” which Guerra directed and Gallego produced, earned the country’s first ever Oscar nomination in 2015. The film marks Gallego’s directorial debut, who also produces the film alongside Katrin Pors and takes a Story By credit. It is the fourth feature film for co-director Guerra, who is set to helm the upcoming film adaptation of Nobel laureate J.M. Coetzee’s classic novel “Waiting for the Barbarians” starring Robert Pattinson, Mark Rylance, and Johnny Depp.
“We are incredibly humbled and honored to again be the Colombian selection for entry to the Academy Awards, especially with a film that is so personal to our country’s history and narrative,” said Gallego and Guerra in an official statement. “We are very grateful to La Academia Colombiana de Artes y Ciencias Cinematorgraficas, who have supported us throughout our careers. It is with great pride that we bring this film to a global audience.”
Per the film’s official synopsis, “‘Birds of Passage’ charts the origins of the Colombian drug trade, through the epic story of an indigenous Wayuu family that becomes involved in the booming business of selling marijuana to American youth in the 1970s. When greed, passion and honor collide, a fratricidal war breaks out that will put their lives, their culture and their ancestral traditions at stake.”
In his Cannes review, IndieWire’s Eric Kohn wrote, “While it never reaches the psychedelic heights of Guerra’s previous effort and relies on a more conventional pattern of events, ‘Birds of Passage’ delivers another fascinating tone poem about Colombia’s fractured identity.”
“We were thrilled to hear the good news that ‘Birds of Passage’ has been selected as Colombia’s official entry for the Academy Awards,” said Paul Davidson, EVP of Film & TV at the Orchard, in an official statement. “There’s no question that Cristina and Ciro’s film is a stirring, epic masterpiece — but its dramatic retelling of the origins of the drug trade and its impact, which is still felt today, is particularly timely and meaningful. We are proud that audiences will get to experience such a singular vision on its path to release.”
The Orchard will release “Birds of Passage” in New York and Los Angeles on February 13, with a national rollout to follow.
Check out IndieWire’s exclusive “Birds of Passage” poster below.