Felipe Aljure named FICCI artistic director as industry experts attend BAM

Colombian filmmaker Felipe Aljure, best known for this 1991 urban feature La gente de La Universal, has been named Artistic Director of Cartagena de Indías International Film Festival, FICCI. Aljure takes over the country’s most important film festival, and longest running in Latin America, as a critically acclaimed director and representative of an industry that has witnessed a surge in award-winning productions. “The first thing we will do is preserve the legacy this festival has established in 58 editions, and honor the work of  Víctor Nieto, Mónica Wagenberg and Diana Bustamante, whose leadership kept the festival going and up-to-date with the industry,” said Aljure.

Since his tenure at the Ministry of Culture’s film office, Aljure later directed two other features: El Colombian Dream (2006) and Tres Escapularios (2015). “We need to defend FICCI and make it evolve in the same direction as other social, technological and cultural events to ensure that going to the festival will always be an enriching experience, whether as filmmakers, cinephiles or film fans who love being in Cartagena.”

Aljure’s nomination comes the same week the Colombian capital is hosting the ninth edition of Bogotá Audiovisual Market (BAM), providing rising talents in the industry a chance to present projects in animation, documentary and screenwriting. “BAM is a part of our commitment to the cultural and creative industries, a sector in which fascinating content in the global and local market allows entrepreneurs to attain a higher level of business in the audiovisual industry,” said Monica De Greiff, president of the Bogotá Chamber of Commerce, the business entity that organizes the event. “By 2025 we plan to convert Bogotá into the principal hub of creativity and content in Latin America.”

The post-production features Chants That Flood The River, Memories of a Mother, The Second Burial of Alejandrino and Cristian and Yimarly: A Rebel Love are being screened at the festival as part of BAM Projects collective, designed to provide Colombian filmmakers a chance to present their work to international buyers and enter in a co-production. These films exemplify the rising capacity of young talents, aiming to highlight current issues in Colombia.

Experts from Colombia, the United States, Spain, and Germany are giving conferences focused on crafting the future of the film. The festival is organized in collaboration with the country’s Fondo para el Desarrollo Cinematográfico (FDC) and promotion entity Proimagenes Colombia. “It’s important to cooperate actively with our audiences through transmedia, immersive content, social narration and voice interfaces,” said Claudia Triana, director of Proimagenes. “The consumption of audiovisual content in the past 5 years has grown notably, and we intend to continue this trend.”

During the BAM conferences, plans were discussed to create a “hipster” district in Bogota, with a cinematic surrounding that will allow the audiovisual industry to thrive and elevate its importance to that of other world capitals.

Notable personalities in the industry participating in the festival include Hussain Currimbhoy, programmer for documentaries and new media at the renowned Sundance Film Festival in the United States. Revered film British-Italian film producer Paula Vaccaro, who has worked in films with prestigious directors such as Oliver Stone and Emir Kusturica, is also attending.

“Today we know how to tell stories, but we don’t consider all the possible intermediaries to communicate with our audience,” said keynote speaker Gustavo Buchbinder, president of Interact, the association of Digital Agencies of Argentina. Buchbinder is widely considered a pioneer in Latin America’s digital market.

This year’s event also includes an art exhibition curated by Paola Peña. The exhibit includes works from renowned Colombian artists such as Miler Lagos, Mariana Murcia, Gabriel Zea and Lorena Espitia.

“It is no longer possible to ignore that we live in a global society interconnected by the accelerated development of new technologies,” said Peña. “Technology offers new forms of understanding the world and interacting in it, which also generates new processes of significance.”

As particpants at BAM get plenty of industry insight, and chance to introduce themselves to international festival directors, for the newly-appointed Aljure, the focus is on next year’s FICCI, in order to begin closing the divide that exists between the Colombian film industry and the theatre-going public. “We have to gain the trust of audiences and make them feel part of the cinema experience. Sadly, Colombians don’t believe in going to see a homegrown production.” FICCI 59 will run from March 6 to 11, 2019.