Birds of Passage: Powerful Tale of Colombia’s Early Days in Drug Trafficking

Birds of Passage is one of the most powerful films I saw at the 2018 Cannes Film Fest.  Almost a year later, the Colombian movie is released theatrically in the U.S.


After leading audiences into seldom-seen recesses of the Amazon jungle with “Embrace of the Serpent,” Oscar-nominated director Ciro Guerra and partner Cristina Gallego, who made a splashy debut with Embrace of the Serpent, continue to impress with their second film, Birds of Passage, one of the best films I saw at the 2018 Cannes Film Fest.

The duo (with Gallego now credited as co-director) depict a tragic chapter in Colombian history that’s ;ittle known in the Western world, dealing with the circumstances under which the indigenous Wayuu tribe was pulled and pushed into the country’s escalatin drug problem, a period known as “la Bonanza Marimbera.”

Poor natives, some of whom never understanding what exactly they are doing, were tempted by a chance for illicit wealth, dealing in the marijuana trade, which sparked outbursts of violence that devastated the community.

Mixing established actors with nonprofessionals, Guerra and Gallego document the Wayuu folkloristic traditions.

The tale is defined by a visually stunning, hyper-surreal style that accentuates the textual material.