Birds of Passage

Variety Piazza Grande Award
Locarno International Film Festival
An absolutely extraordinary film…no dusty period piece, it is wildly alive.


Birds of Passage

Tracing the origins of the Colombian drug trade as it slowly corrupts an indigenous Wayúu family, BIRDS OF PASSAGE is a sprawling epic about the erosion of tradition in pursuit of material wealth. Selected as Colombia’s Official Oscar® entry for Best Foreign Language Film and set to play in the 2019 Sundance Film Festival’s Spotlight program.

BIRDS OF PASSAGE opened Directors’ Fortnight at the 2018 Cannes Film Festival, where it was met with glowing reviews, and went on to screen at the Telluride, Toronto, San Sebastian and BFI London film festivals. The film recently won three Fenix Film Awards, including Best Fictional Film and Best Actress, and was nominated in a total of nine categories.

Directed by Cristina Gallego and Ciro Guerra of EMBRACE OF THE SERPENT, the first Colombian film ever to be nominated for an Oscar®, the genre-defying BIRDS OF PASSAGE stars Wayúu descendants Jose Acosta and Carmiña Martínez alongside rising Colombian 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).

Torn between his desire to become a powerful man and his duty to uphold his culture’s values, Rapayet (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.

“Gallego and Guerra construct the film with such a deep interest in and respect for the indigenous culture that the drug element is but the window through which they view this endangered way of life… Few films have captured quite so powerfully the tension between the old and new worlds.” – Peter Debruge, Variety

“A fascinatingly layered study in dueling tribal codes… Moving to the dramatic and folkloric rhythms of a culture we rarely see, BIRDS OF PASSAGE more or less picks up where EMBRACE OF THE SERPENT left off, with a scalding vision of the twin ravages of capitalism and colonialism taking deep, devastating root.” – Justin Chang, The Los Angeles Times

“This is an absolutely extraordinary film… Guerra and Gallego’s film is no dusty period piece, it is wildly alive, yet it reminds us that no matter how modern we are, there are ancient songs our forebears knew whose melodies still rush in our blood.” – Jessica Kiang, The Playlist
Not Rated
Wayuunaiki, Spanish, English
Cristina Gallego
Ciro Guerra
Jacques Toulemonde
José Acosta, Natalia Reyes, Greider Meza, José Vicente Cote, Juan Bautista Martínez, Miguel Viera, Sergio Coen
Nominee, Variety Piazza Grande Award, Locarno International Film Festival
Richard Brody, New Yorker

This drama, based on the true story of a drug war that engulfed the indigenous Wayuu people of northern Colombia in the nineteen-sixties and seventies, is an ethnographic thriller. A poor young man named Rapayet (José Acosta), a low-level coffee dealer, wants to marry a young woman named Zaida ...

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