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‘Embrace of the Serpent’ Director Ciro Guerra Denies Sexual Harassment Allegations

Eight women accused the filmmaker of sexual misconduct in a June 24 report published by the feminist journal Volcánicas.

Ciro Guerra'Waiting for the Barbarians' photocall, 76th Venice Film Festival, Italy - 06 Sep 2019

Ciro Guerra

Maria Laura Antonelli/Shutterstock

Ciro Guerra, the Colombian film director behind “Embrace of the Serpent” and “Birds of Passage,” is denying allegations of sexual harassment and abuse made against him in a June 24 report published by the feminist journal Volcánicas. The filmmaker said in a video posted online, “I want to state that the publication today of grave accusations in the online magazine Volcanicas against me are completely false. I committed none of the falsehoods I am accused of.”

“In view of the nature and gravity of those accusations, I don’t have any other option but to pursue legal avenues to clear my name,” he continued. “I ask that you wait before passing judgment for justice to reveal the truth in this case.”

In the report published this week by Volcánicas, seven women accused Guerra of sexual harassment and one woman claimed the director sexually abused her at his home. The alleged incidents took place between 2013 and 2019 in Colombia, New York, Berlin, and Mexico. Three of the harassment incidents reportedly took place at the Colombian Film Festival, the Cartagena Film Festival, and the Colombian Embassy in Berlin. One report claims harassment took place during pre-production on Guerra’s Netflix series “Green Frontier.”

Guerra originally denied the allegations in an interview with Volcánicas, saying he has never made unwanted sexual advances against women. “I have to prepare to defend myself because these are very serious accusations, which are not true,” he added. Guerra also said that he had taken a sexual harassment workshop with Netflix.

A source close to Netflix confirmed to IndieWire that harassment training sessions are in place on all of the streamer’s productions. Netflix did not have a comment on the allegations made against Guerra.

A representative from Dynamo, the production company behind Guerra’s “Green Frontier” Netflix series, said in a statement to IndieWire, “At Dynamo we have a zero-tolerance policy and we work to protect our crew and cast. We are currently investigating the case of Ciro Guerra. We have nothing additional to share at this time.”

The Colombian Film Festival in New York, where one of the alleged incidents took place in 2019, shared its own statement with IndieWire. “We are deeply concerned by the recent allegations made against one of our award winners stemming from an event that coincided with our 2019 program in a non-CFF venue or event,” a representative from the organization said. “The Colombian Film Festival has zero-tolerance of any act of sexual violence or aggression.”

Following the publication of the allegations, Guerra’s collaborator Jacques Toulemonde took to Facebook to issue a statement in support of the women. Toulemonde co-wrote “Embrace of the Serpent” and “Birds of Passage” with the director. “I really hesitated to write this. It hurts so bad. But silence is comfortable and accomplice,” Toulemonde wrote. “Abuses of power, sexual harassment and manipulations can’t go on, either in theater or anywhere. My sympathy will always be with the victims.”

Guerra has a new film, “Waiting for the Barbarians” coming to digital and VOD platforms in the U.S. on August 7. The film, an English-language production starring Johnny Depp, premiered last fall at the Venice Film Festival where it was acquired for U.S. distribution by Samuel Goldwyn Films. A representative from the company told IndieWire, “This is the first we are hearing about accusations against Ciro Guerra. We take this very seriously and are looking into the situation.”

Additional reporting by Eric Kohn.

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