IXCANUL Tops Cartagena

By Laura Schwab

The 55th edition of Colombia's most renowned film festival -and Latin America’s longest running festival, the International Film Festival of Cartagena de Indias, announced its winner last week. The top prize went to Guatemalan film Ixcanul (pictured left).

The film, which premiered at Berlin earlier this year and has been consistently turning heads on the international film festival circuit since its release. At Berlin it took home the Silver Bear Alfred Bauer Prize and a couple weeks ago, at Guadalajara Festival, it took home best Ibero-American picture and director.

Ixcanul tells the story of Marí­a, a 17 year-old Kaqchikel Maya, who lives with her parents on a coffee plantation at the foot of an active volcano. Although she is set to marry the farm’s foreman Marí­a longs to discover what is on the other side of the mountain. Variety called it “a transporting, hypnotically beautiful debut feature from Guatemalan director Jayro Bustamante."

The region of Kaqchikel Maya, which is in the midwestern highlands of Guatemala, is home to one of the indigenous Maya peoples. Director Jayro Bustamante grew up in the region and returned home to shoot his debut feature.

The other big winner at this year's Cartagena Fest was Brazil’s White Out, Black In / Branco Sai, Preto Fica (pictured right), which went home both the Special Jury Price and the FIPRESCI Award. The dystopian-futurist thriller follows to Marquim and Sartana, both victims to police brutality, as they plan to end the prevailing racial hatred and segregation, unaware they are being tailed by Dilmar, an information-gathering agent from the future who comes and goes in a time machine.

The Hollywood Reporter called Adirley Queirós' film, "innovative, intriguing and intimate." It has also won numerous awards at other festivals such as the Brazilian Film Festival of Brasi­lia, Festival de Cinema da Fronteira and Vitória Cine Ví­deo.

The award for Best Colombian Film was presented to Carlos Tribiño’s El silencio del río / The Silence of the River (Colombia, pictured left). The film tells the story of Anselmo, a boy who has lost his father, and Epifanio, a poor countryman who sees his world threatened by violence. Two parallel stories that are tragically connected by a river.

Other notable winners at the Colombian festival were Best Director, Hector Galvez for NN (Peru, Colombia, Germany, France), Best Colombian Film, and Best Documentary, Maite Alberdi’s La Once (Chile).

The 55th International Film Festival of Cartagena de Indias took place March 11-17, 2015.