Fundación Puntos de Encuentro and Lulo Films have announced the U.S. theatrical premiere of Réquiem NN (pictured), directed by acclaimed Colombian artist Juan Manuel Echavarría, at The Museum of Modern Art (MoMA) in New York City starting Tuesday, October 8. The evocative documentary film tells the story of a community defies the culture of violence by keeping alive the memory of the disappeared.
The town of Puerto Berrío, which sits on a bend in Colombia's Magdalena River, has been at the center of the conflict between various armed groups such as guerrillas, the army, paramilitaries and drug traffickers, enduring uninterrupted cycles of violence. For over 30 years, local townspeople have fished out the remains of victims of violence, called No Names (NNs), drifting downstream.
Yet for over several years now, the locals have adopted these unidentified corpses and given them names. They decorate and visit their graves, and honor their memory as one would for a lost family member—all because, according to their faith, this guarantees divine protection and special favors.
Since 2006, Echavarría has traveled to the Puerto Berrío’s cemetery to document these rituals, first through photography (also titled “Réquiem NN”), then in the video “Novenario en espera,” and now through film. With a lyrical and reflective eye, the film addresses the ways in which we respond to violence by portraying a community that restores the value and dignity of life while confronting bitter cruelty and loss. Réquiem NN is ultimately a tale of resistance and resilience.
An established artist with a cinematic vision, Echavarría’s work is easily at home at art galleries and film theaters. He has been featured at the Venice Biennale, MoMA, the San Francisco and Toronto Film Festivals, and the Flaherty Film Seminar, among other venues. He will be featured at the Musée du Quai Branly in Paris this September with the collective exhibition “Nocturnes de Colombie,” as part of the PHOTOQUAI, Photography Biennale of World Images. The artist will present his film on opening night and at selected screenings during its theatrical run at MoMA between October 8-14.