Ahead of emigrating to Colombia I have been channeling my energy into understanding the history and current climate of the complex country. Two recent films to emerge out of Colombia that have aided my research are Chocolate of Peace by Gwen Burnyeat and Embrace of the Serpent directed by Ciro Guerra.
Chocolate of Peace looks at ‘The Peace Community’ of San José de Apartadó, a group of victims of the armed conflict, who have been building peace from the grassroots for twenty years. They are well revered in international human rights circles, despite many Colombians being unaware of them.
Gwen Burnyeat on her new film: “This documentary offers an account of their work as a new way for all Colombian society to think about their search for a fairer country. Firstly, through the human experiences of massacres, forced displacement, threats and terror. Only through empathising with individual stories can human beings understand what it means for there to be over 8 million victims in Colombia, many of them rural, and appreciate how urgent the need is to end the armed confrontation.”
Listen to an in interview with Gwen Burnyeat on Colombia Calling
Embrace of the Serpent was inspired by the real-life journals of two explorers (Theodor Koch-Grünberg and Richard Evans Schultes) who traveled through the Colombian Amazon during the last century in search of the sacred and difficult-to-find psychedelic Yakruna plant.
Just two days ago on 26 June 2016, after 60 years of conflict, a peace agreement was signed between President Juan Manuel Santos and Carlos Antonio Lozada, the commander of Colombia’s Farc rebels. It is now down to Colombians to accept or reject the agreement in October. Whatever the outcome, while living in Colombia, I hope to discover more of the creativity and resolve of its population. I’d like see innovative works promoted to an international market –taking the media headlines– over the ones that Colombia has been more associated with in the past.