<< Go to Spanish version


Emerging Cinema and Diversity: Andrés Bayona Talks about BIFF 9 in Bogotá

By Sandra M Ríos U
Twitter: @sandritamrios

We are very pleased to have a significant female presence in this edition.

Tomorrow, the Bogotá International Film Festival begins, which is currently one of the festivals with the most solid and robust programming among these events in Colombia. Over nine editions, it has been committed to promoting and discovering local and foreign emerging cinema and talent.

With a program of 54 titles, a new and interesting section of those hard-to-find films, and two retrospectives on two artists and the Mexican production company Pimienta Films, BIFF 9 will run throughout the city until October 12.

Among the highlighted international titles are the premiere of 'Priscilla,' the new film by Sofia Coppola, as well as the new productions by Aki Kaurismäki (Fallen Leaves), Wim Wenders (Perfect Days), and Lav Diaz (When the Waves Are Gone). Colombian feature films making their debut in the country after their screenings at international festivals include 'El otro hijo' by Juan Sebastián Quebrada, the film chosen by the Colombian Academy of Cinema for the 2024 Goya Awards; 'Transfariana' by Joris Lachaise; 'Río Rojo' by Guillermo Quintero; and 'Diógenes' by Leonardo Barbuy La Torre. (See the full program here).

The festival director, Andrés Bayona, provided us with details about this edition:

- How many films were received this year, and from how many countries?

For this edition, the festival features the participation of 54 films, representing 43 countries, some in production and co-production. We have all five continents represented with the best films from the past year. We practically have a complete program of all genres, including fiction, documentary, animation, and nearly half of the participating films are directed by women. It's a cinematic celebration featuring the best audiovisual production from the international festival circuit in the past year.

- What has been the curatorial process for this edition?

As in all events related to the creative industries, perhaps the most important part is curation. In the specific case of BIFF, we are four programmers who are constantly traveling and attending the most important festivals and markets in the international circuit. We start in January, looking for films that are gaining recognition and winning awards during the same year as the festival. The four programmers discuss the titles we are looking for with a specific curatorial purpose, thinking about our Bogotá audience, aiming for a variety of content and a youthful spirit. In the end, the selection is the result of reconciling nearly 400 or 500 titles that we review each year, so it's hard work, full of challenges, but it ultimately offers the best curation for our city.

- As BIFF focuses on emerging cinema, what stands out about the narratives of new filmmakers, both domestic and foreign?

BIFF itself is a young festival that aims to find those young talents telling stories differently, experimenting with new techniques and narratives. Those are the kinds of films we are looking to program. Typically, what we do with the curatorial committee is seek out debut or second films, making it a platform for promoting our local talent.

- It's becoming more common for festivals to demand significant inclusion of films made by women. What are your thoughts on this, and how does the festival handle it?

In this particular edition, we have found a very significant showcase of audiovisual works directed by women. For BIFF 9, we have two award-winning films from the previous edition of the Berlin International Film Festival. One is '20,000 Species of Bees,' a Spanish film directed by Estibaliz Urresola, and 'Tótem' by Lila Avilés, a co-production between Mexico, Denmark, and France. In addition, we can add three of the best films from the previous edition of the Cannes Film Festival: 'Tiger Stripes' by Amanda Nell Eu, a wonderful Malay film; 'La Chimera' by Alice Rohrwacher; and 'Music' by Angela Schanelec, which were the three films with the most significance at that festival, all directed by women. We are very, very pleased to have a significant female presence in this edition.

- The festival always features a new section or special event; will there be one this year?

The curation proposes a new section titled 'Los Relatos Mutantes' (Mutant Narratives), featuring films from different parts of the world and very different film traditions that intersect in their interest in pushing the formal and narrative boundaries of more conventional cinematic genres. This year, we have programmed all those films that do not fit into traditional narratives but propose new aesthetics and ways of telling stories. We are welcoming this new section, hoping that our young audience enjoys it and can absorb it.

- Another focus of the festival is workshops and training activities. What will be offered in this edition?

One of the most important objectives of the festival is to seek out emerging talent that the audiovisual industry is looking for and needs, but that academia is not shaping through its formal education programs. Every year, we offer a series of workshops in collaboration with various universities, organizations, and institutes that have programs aligned with the search for young talent. This year, like every year, we emphasize three workshops: film criticism, understanding that this area is essential for the industry's growth; short film scriptwriting, searching for those with ideas and those writing these new stories; and executive production of short films, looking at who is interested in financing and producing them. In addition, we have two new proposals: an acting workshop for the camera, for those at the foundation of audiovisual discourse, and a workshop on sound design and musical composition, led by these new composers and musicians who are helping with soundscaping. These five workshops will be guided by local and international professionals and faculty members.

- "Me gusta descubrir" (I like to discover) has been the festival's motto. Nine years into the event, what are the discoveries that you remember the most?

That is the invitation to the festival's audience to dare to discover the films we are presenting, always with the idea of how to help our young viewers understand and consume audiovisual content in a responsible and critical manner. We have been innovating for nine years with sections like 'Colombia Viva,' where we showcase local talent. The festival's backbone is the 'Espíritu Joven' (Youthful Spirit) section, where we usually program debut and second works with stories told in a different way. There is also 'Fantasmas del pasado' (Ghosts of the Past), including titles that make us reflect on the role we are playing in society, and 'Miradas Expandidas' (Expanded Views), where formats transcend the normal formulas and narratives for storytelling. In recent years, we have also had 'Cine Conciertos' (Cinema Concerts) to help understand this universal film heritage.

- Let's talk about the retrospectives of European filmmakers Úrsula Meier and Ulrich Seidl.

These are two very interesting retrospectives from an artistic perspective. The first one is on Úrsula Meier, who is a renowned Franco-Swiss filmmaker with a unique talent for directing actors and creating complex family universes with a very psychological approach to her characters. It is also a privilege to have Ulrich Seidl, one of the most important Austrian directors today, known for addressing provocative themes. These retrospectives are very different and antagonistic but feature the best films from both directors.

- What venues will host BIFF 9?

The festival covers all locations in Bogotá. Our central headquarters is the Cinemateca de Bogotá, where all the official programming will take place. For the first time, we will be at the Biblioteca de El Tunal. We will also be at the Cine Colombia on Avenida Chile, and for the Cinema Concerts, we will have the Teatro Mayor Julio Mario Santo Domingo and the Teatro El Ensueño in Ciudad Bolívar available.

<< Go to Spanish version