Birds of Passage (2019)

2h 5m / R / Drama

Colombian-born director Ciro Guerra (Embrace of the Serpent) makes films about the brutal corruption of what First Worlders call the Third World but Guerra would call the essential one: of indigenous peoples who can recognize their ancient origins in the families and objects and landscape around them and then — suddenly, dizzyingly, catastrophically — can’t. His new film, Birds of Passage, is part ethnographic documentary, part The Godfather. The film chronicles the origin of the Colombian drug trade, as seen through an indigenous Wayuu family’s rise and fall during its early days. Spanning the late 1960s and ‘70s, the film is structured as a kind of filmic epic poem and divided into five chapters (referred to, poetically, as cantos): Wild Grass, The Graves, Prosperity, The War and Limbo. When greed, passion and honor collide, a fratricidal war breaks out and puts their lives, culture and ancestral traditions at stake.