Ciro Guerra’s Embrace of the Serpent / El abrazo de la serpiente from Colombia is one of the nine films that were shortlisted in the 88th edition of the Academy Awards in the Best Foreign Language category, as it was announced this evening. It is the only Latin American film with chances to garner a nomination in next year’s Oscars. Colombia has never received an Oscar nomination since it started submitting candidates in 1980.
At once blistering and poetic, the ravages of colonialism cast a dark shadow over the South American landscape in Embrace of the Serpent, the third feature by 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 Koch-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.
Embrace of the Serpent, winner of the Directors’ Fortnight top prize at the 2015 Cannes Film Festival, will open in U.S. theaters in February 2016 released by Oscilloscope Pictures.
The nominations for the 88th Academy Awards will be announced on January 14.