Embrace of the Serpent (El Abrazo De La Serpiente)
Director: Ciro Guerro
Cast: Jan Bijvoet, Brionne Davis, Nilbio Torres, Antonio Bolivar, Yauenku Miguee
Language: Spanish, Portuguese, German, Catalan, Latin with English subtitles
Country of Origin: Columbia, Venezuela, Argentina 2015 125 mins.
Released by Peccadillo Pictures
At once blistering and poetic, the ravages of colonialism cast a dark shadow over the South American landscape in EMBRACE OF THE SERPENT, the third feature by Ciro Guerra. Filmed in stunning black-and-white, SERPENT centers on Karamakate, an Amazonian shaman and the last survivor of his people, and the two scientists who, over the course of 40 years, build a friendship with him. The film was inspired by the real-life journals of two explorers (Theodor Koch-Grünberg and Richard Evans Schultes) who travelled through the Colombian Amazon during the last century in search of the sacred and difficult-to-find psychedelic Yakruna plant. Peccadillo Pictures
Whenever I looked at a map of my country, I was overwhelmed by great uncertainty. Half of it was an unknown territory, a green sea, of which I knew nothing. The Amazon, that unfathomable land, which we foolishly reduce to simple concepts. Coke, drugs, Indians, rivers, war. Is there really nothing more out there? Is there not a culture, a history? Is there not a soul that transcends? The explorers taught me otherwise.
Those men who left everything, who risked everything, to tell us about a world we could not imagine. Those who made first contact, during one of the most vicious holocausts man has ever seen.
Can man, through science and art, transcend brutality? Some men did. The explorers have told their story. The natives haven’t. This is it.
A land the size of a whole continent, yet untold. Unseen by our own cinema. That Amazon is lost now. In the cinema, it can live again. —CIRO GUERRA