Posted tagged ‘Colombia’

The Troubled Colombian Image: Part I

December 6, 2009

La Sierra documentary - discussing the negative image on Colombia portrayed in films of the past 20 years.

I am finally sitting down to write a small contribution to those who may not have been exposed to movies on Colombia or by Colombian directors. The movie industry is indeed one of the main culprits of the distorted image of Colombia – some of which is earned and true but the sole focus on mafia, drugs, violence and kidnappings creates a distorted image.

The image one gets from some of these movies and the image that seems to prevail is that a Colombian is synonymous to not only crime and murder but to VICIOUS crime: it is almost like saying that to die is one thing but to be killed by a Colombian is ‘More Terrible Than Death’. Well, that is unfortunately exactly the title of an excellent book by Robin Kirk of Human Rights Watch ( But the point is that book was written in 2002 and now we are finishing off 2009 – that creates the discrepancy and the opportunity to support all those positive developments in this beautiful country.

So I went to Colombia for the first time in 2008 – and had a wonderful time in Medellin. Only after returning did I start to research how the rest of the world forms their perception of the country. I went on Amazon and typed in the keyword ‘Colombia’ and bought pretty much everything that showed up. Including a couple of movies that shocked me considerably – especially ‘La Sierra’ and ‘Virgen de los Sicarios’. Then I watched La Vendedora de Rosas and Rodrigo D and they did not make me feel one single bit better. Was it really me who had just visited that city?? No wonder my friends here think I am crazy – those movies can give you goosebumps, seriously. And finally I got my hands on Cocaine Cowboys 1 & 2 and not only did it make me feel sick but I felt very sorry for the glorification of crime in the American culture, especially among the rap/gangsta culture.

So let’s build a list here, see what we’ve got and discuss it a bit. Feel free to complete the list and make comments. (more…)