Colombia: Cinema, historical memory and culture of peace


An article from Seminario Voz

From November 24 to December 8, the Peace Cinema Festival will take place, with the screening of more than 30 cinematographic pieces, including feature films and short films, that give an account of the New Colombia that has arisen after the signing of the Peace Agreement, an event that just turned seven years old

Organizing team of the Peace Cinema Festival. Photo courtesy

The festival gathers audiovisual works, documentaries, fictions, animations, including short films and films that contain the voice and image of the fight for peace and the construction of historical memory from various latitudes of the country and the world.

Through alternative, community and popular cinema, in its first version, the Peace Film Festival brings together social, cultural organizations, creators, directors, cultural and social leaders, producers of the audiovisual and popular communities of the world and the country, who shoot films for peace. Through cinema and audiovisuals, with their faces and hands, farmers, workers, rural communities and organizations from sidewalks and neighborhoods, tell their stories of memory, peace, resistance and transformation.

Stories about people

The festival brings together a selection of more than 30 cinematographic works that give an account of the new Colombia that has arisen after the signing of the Peace Agreement with the FARC-EP, as well as the cultural context for a new narrative of the conflict and peace. It presents the roots and seeds from popular and alternative cinema for the construction of memory, the search for reconciliation and non-repetition, as well as presenting the historical causes and demands that have given way to the construction of peace.

In this first installment of the Peace Film Festival, between November 24 and December 8, cinema raises its voice for historical memory and the culture of peace, through spaces of training, dissemination and circulation that seek to strengthen the storytelling of communities of their own stories. Its epicenter is in Bogotá, in different iconic cultural and social spaces, born from historical social struggles and demands for peace and social justice.

Jessica Santacruz, organizer of the Peace Cinema Festival, describes how this project was born from the need for a space that brings together cinematographic pieces that tell about peace from the territories and from their own worldviews: “We want to make films to imagine a better country. “It is necessary to recognize the struggles of the people and to promote the structural transformations that the country requires.”

Tell the other side of the coin

The programming of the festival includes public training spaces, forums, workshops, dialogues and projections around memory and peace. Cinema shows the hope and transformations that peace allows, as well as its challenges. It is a trench in the struggle for peace in Colombia.

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(Click here for the original Spanish version of this article.)

Question for this article:

Film festivals that promote a culture of peace, Do you know of others?

What is happening in Colombia, Is peace possible?

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Jennifer Castañeda and Natalia Monroy are co-directors of “16 de Mayo,” a short documentary film that narrates the events that occurred in 1984 at the National University of Colombia. It is based on the testimony of Elizabeth Díaz and Luis Higuera, who talk about the eviction by State agencies of the resident students, an event that fractured the Colombian student movement and the country’s education system. This film is projected within the framework of the audiovisual creation laboratory with which the festival began.

The directors highlighted that “these spaces for meeting and dissemination are vital for the audiovisual production of historical memory of the conflict. They enable us to work on projects that transcend social networks. Every time we project our films in scenarios like these, we receive different perspectives of the public that make us reflect on different moments in history.”

“Being filmmakers is not an easy job, but we look for a way for history to come to light. In our case, by working collectively, we recognize each person’s expertise, respecting artistic freedom and channel it into fruitful work,” say the directors.

For their part, William Ospina, director of “La Promesa,” and its producer Sara Chacón, speak about the stigmatization produced by a sector of the country that wants to perpetuate the war and which makes it difficult to tell the other side of the story.

Another star film in the selection is “Colombia In My Arms” (2020) by Finnish directors Jenni Kivistö & Jussi Rastas, which has won an international award and will be released in theaters in the country for the first time. This and other films of 24 frames per second, tell stories of emotions, joys and dramas, the magic that only cinema has to take us to the past, wake us up in the present and ground us in the future.


A film debate “Women, Cinema and Palestinian Resistance” was held, also within the framework of the Peace Film Festival and the 25th International Day for the Elimination of Violence against Women. The debate included Isabel Rikkers, a member of the collective, along with Tadamun Antimili, who spoke about the importance of creating more spaces for pedagogy and activism to make the genocide against the people of Palestine visible. “There is a denial of the conflict, like what has happened in Colombia. We cannot allow half the people to hate the other half,” said Rikkers.

In this way the festival tells a story that can only be done by popular hands, hands of communities that tell their own history, owners of their own memory and transformers for the new Colombia and another possible world.

Five, four, three, two, one, action! For the culture of peace and historical memory! Action for another possible country that is filmed with a camera in hand, day by day, with images that smell and taste of dignity, neighborhoods, countryside and revolution for peace.

The Peace Cinema Festival is projected as one of the most representative cultural stages of the Seventh Art for Peace. Through popular alternative cinema it strengthens the collective cause of festivals throughout the Colombian territory that are committed to life, to the defense of human rights and social justice.

This project is also possible, thanks to the support of the Cultural Transformations for Peace process, the Casa Cultural Alternativa, the Partido Comunes and the Centro de Memoria, Paz y Reconciliación.