FICCI 61 opens with Mesa’s homegrown feature La Roya


The International Film Festival of Cartagena (FICCI) inaugurates edition 61 with the premiere on Wednesday of Colombian director Juan Sebastián Mesa’s second feature La Roya.

With the immensity of his native country’s coffee landscape as a leading protagonist, La Roya, is set in seemingly opposing worlds – rural and urban – and only homegrown film in the New Director’s category of the festival. Mesa’s drama of a young man who decides to become a coffee farmer was filmed in the coffee groves of Antioquia, and setting familiar to Mesa given that he studied audiovisual communications at the University of Antioquia before creating his first short Maquillando el silencio as part of his academic studies.

His second short Kalashnikov, made the international festival circuit and won in the categories of best short, best screenplay and best director at the El Espejo International Short Film Festival. In 2016, Mesa released his first feature Los Nadie (The Nobodies) that also opened edition 56 of FICCI.

Los Nadie was shot in Black and White over the course of one week and follows a carefree gang of tattooed millennials as they try to earn a living on the tough streets of Medellín as traffic light acrobats. Mesa’s moody drama won the Audience Award at the Venice Critics’ Week given David Correa Franco’s monochrome cinematography and music by punk rockers O.D.I.O.

Mesa’s La Roya is making its debut in Colombia at FICCI with high expectations, and film that tackles the difficult relationships of Jorge, a determined coffee farmer, and the plantation’s owner, his father, as well as the additional burden of having to take care of his grandfather.

The title of the film – La Roya – is a direct reference to a fungus known as coffee rust (Hemilieia vastatrxi) that grows on the leaves of a bean-laden plant and can destroy an entire harvest. The rust in Mesa’s feature becomes the metaphor for Jorge’s torn relationships, financial loss, solitude in the hills, and physical ills that plague him. The film stars Juan Daniel Ortiz as Jorge, Paula Andrea Cano as Jorge’s cousin Rosa, and Laura Gutiérrez as Jorge’s unrequited ex, Andrea.

In addition to the screening as the opening film of FICCI 61, La Roya will have two additional screenings within the framework of the festival from March 16 to 21. For the complete slate of the festival’s six day program: