Diana Bustamante Escobar
Artistic Director

In the depths of the jungle, life, chaos, death and the magical, all-consuming power of nature reside. Exuberant, intense, suggestive, mysterious, fascinating and seductive, the forest is a place where the senses are heightened, home to all things beautiful and all things terrifying. But what is so terrifying? What is fear? Where does it come from?

Never before in the history of mankind have we erected so many walls to delimit borders, not just geographical, but religious, ideological, racial. Human borders, when all is said and done. But what is it we’re protecting ourselves from, if indeed these fragile constructs really can protect us? From otherness. We fear anything and everything that is different to us, that questions us. If it isn’t like us, it must be EVIL, nay MONSTROUS, because it undermines our concept of ourselves, the things we cling to for dear life because they give us a sense of security.

This year, the Cartagena Film Festival (FICCI) will revel in that very otherness, in the beauty and perverseness our jungle conceals. Monsters, werewolves, hunted hunters, colonized colonizers, people with fluid identities, losers, artists, whores, murderers, avengers and the avenged, outsiders and underdogs, targets and innocents, the young and old, the corrupt and the incorruptible. Time and time again, cinema reminds us of the undeniable and very necessary part fantasy plays, not just as a way of tolerating reality, but of completely subverting it. In these times, when walls are springing up everywhere, cinema has turned toward the imagination, including documentaries (that show us worlds of possibilities). That sense of wonder, so simple, yet so essential, that we thought we’d lost, today blossoms with force and exuberance, breaking the earth in all the places we dare not look. The proliferation of borders and fear do not, however, seem to have paralyzed cinema or society for that matter. From its grassroots, or perhaps from the sidelines, cinema—and society—have come up with a new notion of utopia, that imaginary space, that unreal place that makes real ones habitable.

This 58th edition of FICCI promises to be an ELECTRIFYING one that fires the senses and sends electroshocks coursing through false moralizers and all things decadent. The films we have chosen are as unpredictable as birds of paradise that turn around gouge out your eyes or plain old caterpillars that transmute into butterflies. Caribbean to the core, FICCI celebrates the lushness of the tropic, if not its exoticism: a complex, not-always-happy tropic whose steamy jungle has seen entire civilizations rise and fall and whose voraciousness intensifies on a par with that of man, but where life flourishes and its mysterious beauty overshadows its depravities. FICCI 58 promises to be like its poster announces: vibrant, unexpected, Caribbean, yes, impactful, yes, but also enigmatic and inquisitive. This year, Spanish film has a strong presence on our program. We will be revisiting productions made during the so-called “crisis” that offer us a new perspective, that explore the periphery and embrace that otherness that is so different, yet so commonplace. Our festival-goers will also be treated to retrospectives of the works of maestros like Glauber Rocha and more contemporary filmmakers like Bruno Dumont, as well as tributes to the brilliant, eclectic careers of Maribel Verdú and Tilda Swinton. Likewise, our Midnight Movies section offers a sampling of “wayward” Spanish films from different eras that share a penchant for irreverence and nonconformity. A total of 140 films, including retrospectives, special programs, 34 feature-length and over 40 short films will be screened during the course of the festival and while I’m not sure if this will be our best or worst yet, it will most definitely be the most ELECTRIFYING ever. FICCI 58!

Photo: Salvatore Salomone Revista Diners