The violence and dehumanisation of the drug trade collide with native tradition in directors Cristina Gallego and Ciro Guerra’s epic crime drama.
Following the duo’s sublime work on 2016’s Embrace of the Serpent, their latest feature is another exploration of wealth, power and the corruption they bring. Offering spirituality, intrigue and drama, this visually exquisite work chronicles a Wayuu family's rise and fall during the early days of illegal drug trafficking in northern Colombia.
Unlike many films about drug gangs, it doesn’t luxuriate in violence. It’s an unexpected take on the cartel crime thriller, concerning itself predominantly with the threat of brutality or its horrific aftermath, not the act itself. Gallego and Guerra care less about staging perfectly choreographed bullet ballets than showing the damage done to the spirit of a community.
Birds of a Passage is an emotional, searing tragedy of a society’s determination to hold on to traditional life. Framed as an elder recounting memories as a cautionary tale to future generations, it’s a powerful, innovative exploration of a profoundly beautiful culture and their pivotal time in Colombian history. (Research Chris Coetsee) Dangerous living, beautifully drawn. Don’t miss.