Birds of Passage – TIFF18

Birds of Passage is the follow-up to Columbian filmmakers Ciro Guerra and Cristina Gallego who previously worked on Embrace of the Serpent. Serpent was universally acclaimed and praised, so everyone has been wondering what their next film will be like.

Enter Birds, a Columbian film about an indigenous family. Rapayet who works in the city with “ajilunes” who ends up battling his identity as his tribe questions his as well.

Rapayet and his friend Moises work in delivering coffee, but after Rapayet falls in love, he needs to raise money for a dowry. this leads him to an intriguing business opportunity. After a delivery, the two friends find a few Gringos (Americans) who are mercenaries, and while they are in Columbia, to help the people, they are also in the search of marijuana. Rapayet happens to know a cousin who grows it, so he starts a new business with Moises.

What follows is a Shakespearean rise and fall of this family as drugs begin getting trafficked to America. We see as he makes both smart and wrong decisions as he tries to have it all. A family, wealth, partners. And safety.

The film thankfully leaned straight into the belies and rituals of the Wuyuu, the indigenous first nation. It adds a wonderful layer towards believability. It makes me have a better grasp as to why Rapayet and his family make certain decisions.

The family lives in the desert, which calls for some of the best modern landscape shots of nothingness. It feels like a call back to David Lean’s work, especially Lawrence of Arabia.

The film is told in 5 Cantos (meaning songs, but referring to acts) and includes all your basic Shakespeare traits, betrayal, sex, family troubles and even poop jokes.

There is some gruesome violence shown,  but only ever the aftermath. Which is a decision I adored. The point of violence is never even close to gratuitous like similar stores and films (looking at you Scarface) but as a statement of look at what you caused. The blood is literally on your hands.

It’s an exquisite film that fans of the directors will likely Embrace.

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