If you’re an indie film buff then this month Bogotá is the place to be with screenings held across the city thanks to two important cinematic events: the launch of the first editon of the Independent Film Festival (IndieBo) and the Bogotá Audiovisual Market – BAM sponsored by the Bogotá Chamber of Commerce (CCB).

The first to kick-off on July 13th is the sixth edition of BAM which according to the organizers promises to be the “biggest BAM ever.” Mexico is this year’s guest host nation and 95 international guests, including – for the first time ever – Netflix and HBO will meet and discuss potential film projects and distribution opportunities with applicants. In the BAM Projects category, 204 applications have already been submitted of which jurors evaluated 133, and 45 have been selected. In the Screenings category, the CCB received 54 applications of which 19 have been chosen: 10 fiction films and nine documentaries.

For four days, BAM hosts industry leaders and has become the most important venue to promote Colombian film talent. From experienced directors and producers to young talent represented in the BAMMERS category, this year’s registrations reached a record high, with 310 in the Industry section, highlighting the growing interest in BAM as the perfect networking space for local producers, screenwriters, film services companies, sales agents and television networks, to exchange ideas on what’s in demand and ideally enter into long standing creative partnerships. Screenings of BAM selected films will take place at the Multiplex Cine Colombia theatre (Avenida Chile).

Among the international attendees to this year’s sixth edition are Christian Jeune, head of the Cannes Film Festival’s film office and Trevor Groth, director of Sundance. As the guest country of honour, Mexico has sent a delegation of 21 industry professionals with impressive track records in film and television production. If you have registered with BAM then you’ll have an agenda full of meetings, industry brunches and a chance to sell your idea to the leaders. If you have not signed-up for the event, you can still do so, by visiting the BAM website: www.bogotamarket.com

The Bogotá Audiovisual Market – BAM has helped launch many of the Colombian films which have received critical claim at internation film festivals, such Toronto’s TIFF, Berlin and San Sebastián (Spain). One BAM-sponsored film, Gente de Bien by Francisco Lolli debuted last month in theatres across Colombia. Lolli’s film took part in the First Feature Competition at the London Film Festival thanks to the presence of the festival’s director, María Delgado, at last year’s BAM in which United Kingdom was the guest nation. The presence of the British delegation at BAM provided the springboard for the film’s UK distribution, making it the first Colombian film to premiere in the United Kingdom in 10 years. Gente de Bien also participated in the 53rd Critics’ Week at the Cannes Film Festival this year. And then of course, there’s Cannes.

On the heels of its success at last year’s Cannes Film Festival with Simon Mesa’s short film Leidi and which received a Palm d’Or, Colombia returned in May to Cannes with three feature films, including Ciro Guerra’s much anticipated El Abrazo de la Serpiente (Embrace of the Serpent) and the La Tierra y la Sombra (Land and Shade) by director César Acevedo which took home two awards, including the France 4 Visionary Award and the Prize of the Society of Dramatic Authors and Composers.

The first version of Independent Film Festival Bogotá (IndieBo) launches July 16th with the screening of Acevedo’s Land and Shade. The poignant story of a rural family holding on to what they have while the world around them goes up in flames sets the tone for a new film festival in which 90 films were selected including features, documentaries and shorts and from more than 30 countries on 5 continents. IndieBO has also included films in its line up which have participated in prestigious festivals. According to the organizers, audiences will be able to enjoy the best in both national and international independent film making.

Breaking the mold of showing films in limited venues, IndieBo will screen in many venues across Bogotá, including parks, such as Timiza and Parque Nacional. Fifteen directors have been invited to give key note speeches, as well as, present their cinematic works. Colombia is represented with six filmss: Land and Shadow (Augusto César Acevedo), Alias María by director José Luis Rugeles, Two women and a cow (Ephraim Bahamón), The gossips (Juan Paulo Laserna), Incredible (Jaime Barríos) and Three scapulars by Felipe Aljure. So well done to all the Colombian film talent, our recent international awards and the possibility to see visual storytelling that home-grown and is increasingly recognized by critics and moviegoers around the world.