A young Kogi boy and his pet monkey hobnobbed with art cinema auteurs and Hollywood moguls Wednesday at the 2016 Cannes Film Festival.
Nuku, a member of the Kogi indigenous group native to the Sierra Nevada de Santa Marta, and his monkey Kiki are the animated stars of Las Aventuras de Nuku (The Adventures of Nuku), Colombia’s only feature film to screen this year at the renowned French festival.
The film, directed by Jairo Carrillo and screened during Cannes Animation Day, tells the story of a young boy and his companion who race to rescue the “Heart of the World” from a greedy multinational corporation bent on its destruction.
It’s a theme that touches on real life controversies in Colombia. Last year, Santa Marta’s Tayrona National Park briefly closed so that native groups could heal the damage wrought by an excess of tourism.
And across the country, oil and mineral rights have clashed with protective environmental policies even near such iconic natural as the Caño Cristales, otherwise known as the “River of Five Colors.”
“When I traveled to the Sierra Nevada, I watched how the Kogi people educated their children and taught them that the earth was sacred,” said Carrillo. “I wondered how we could teach children about such relevant issues as climate change.”
Carrillo is best known for his 2010 film, an animated documentary feature entitled Pequeñas Voces (Little Voices). It tells the story of young people displaced by the violence of Colombia’s internal conflict.
Las Aventuras de Nuku is written by Mauricio Leiva Cock and Mauricio Laguna. It stars comedian Andrés López as Nuku along with co-stars Cristina Umaña and Martina La Peligrosa.
Though Nuku is the country’s only feature-length selection this year, two other Colombian short films will screen at Cannes 2016 including Madre (Mother) by director Simón Mesa and Los Pasos del Agua (The Steps of the Water) by César Acevedo, who represented the country at the festival last year with La Tierra y La Sombra (Land and Shade).
The Adventures of Nuku had its world premiere at this year’s Cartagena International Film Festival (FICCI) and is expected to hit Colombian theaters in September.