The Colombian Academy of Cinematography Arts and Sciences has announced their selection of Birds of Passage / Pájaros de verano as Colombia’s Official Entry in the Best Foreign Language Film Oscar category. A sprawling epic about the erosion of tradition in pursuit of material wealth, the genre-defying Birds of Passage is a visually striking exploration of loyalty, greed, and the voracious nature of change.
Directed by Cristina Gallego and Ciro Guerra, producer and director of Embrace of the Serpent, the first Colombian film ever to be nominated for an Oscar, Birds of Passage premiered as the Opening Night selection of the Directors’ Fortnight at the 2018 Cannes Film Festival, where it was met with glowing reviews. It is the fourth film by producing/directing team Gallego and Guerra and the fourth to be selected as Colombia’s Official Oscar Entry.
“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. “We are very grateful to la Academia Colombiana de Artes y Ciencias Cinematográficas, which has supported us throughout our careers. It is with great pride that we bring this film to a global audience.”
Tracing the origins of the Colombian drug trade as it slowly corrupts a native Wayúu family, Birds of Passage stars Wayúu descendants Jose Acosta and Carmiña Martínez alongside rising Colombia star Natalia Reyes (of the upcoming Terminator reboot) and is stunningly shot by longtime collaborator David Gallego (Embrace of the Serpent; I Am Not a Witch). The film will screen at the Toronto International Film Festival as part of the Contemporary World Cinema section and will be released by The Orchard on Wednesday, February 13 in New York and Los Angeles, with a national rollout to follow.
Birds of Passage marks the directorial debut of prolific producer Cristina Gallego, who also produces the film alongside Katrin Pors and takes a Story By credit. This is the fourth feature film for co-director Ciro 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.
Torn between his desire to become a powerful man and his duty to uphold his culture’s values, Raphayet (Acosta), enters the drug trafficking business in the 1970s to secure a dowry to marry Zaida (Reyes) and finds quick success despite his tribe’s matriarch Ursula’s (Martínez) disapproval. Ignoring ancient omens, Raphayet and his family get caught up in a conflict where honor is the highest currency and debts are paid with blood.