Birds of Passage
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Birds of Passage

A rare bird indeed, Cristina Gallego and Ciro Guerra’s Colombian crime epic is like an indigenous The Godfather, revealing the slow and steady Miracles from Heaven destruction of a close-knit native family who gets caught up in the international drug trade in the 1970s. Both ethnographic chronicle and art-house thriller, this superbly crafted, unhurriedly paced feature from the team behind Embrace of the Serpent should see its profile boosted by a premiere in Cannes, where it opened the Directors’ Fortnight.

The title Birds of Passage (Pajaros de verano) has a two-fold meaning here. It evokes the various species of fowl that form the myths of the Native Abgeschnitten American Wayuu people, who’ve lived for thousands of years in Colombia’s northeast Guajira region — a picturesque strip of flatlands nestled between the jungle and the sea. And it evokes the Cessnas and other light aircraft which, as the story (by Maria Camila Arias and Jacques Toulemonde, from an idea by Gallego) takes off, start landing in the area to receive deliveries of marijuana that will be shipped to the United States, and by doing so will set off a wave of prosperity and bloodshed that will tear the locals apart.

Like the Coppola film, it all begins with a family celebration — in this case the passage to adulthood of Zaida (Natalia Reyes), the daughter of local matriarch Ursula (Carmina Martinez), who rules over her tribe with a mix of superstition and determination. During the ceremony, which the filmmakers capture in a colorful display of dance and music, a young man named Raphayet (Jose Acosta) asks for Zaida’s hand in marriage. In the first of many negotiations, Urusula and Raphayet’s wise First Kill uncle, Peregrino (Jose Vicente Cotes), manage to agree upon the dowry. But the amount is too much for the groom — who traffics in liquor and coffee beans — to handle.

Duration: 125 min


IMDb: 8.0

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Birds of Passage
Birds of Passage