Colombia in My Arms

In a strongly polarised world, can people find a common ground for peace?

Colombia in My Arms The much-celebrated peace agreement runs Colombia into chaos. FARC guerrilla Ernesto, poverty-stricken coca farmers, a mysterious aristocrat, and a passionate right-wing politician struggle at the edge of their morals as they reach for contradictory dreams for a better Colombia. What happens to a very fragile peace in an unequal country if doing the ‘wrong’ thing may easily be justified as the only viable means of struggle?

Colombia in My Arms (2020) on IMDb

Festivals

LaurelGöteborg Film Festival - Best Nordic Documentary Award Winner
LaurelHelsinki Documentary Film Festival - Official Selection
LaurelThessaloniki Documentary Festival - Official Selection

Reviews and More

"This award is given for the curiosity of the directors in observing vastly different opposing groups, resulting in a polyphonic portrait of a country in which peace doesn’t seem welcome. The precise use of photography and editing submerges us in the differing realities presented and creates a stark contrast between the political sensibilities at play in the natural and urban environments, and the associated poverty and luxury. This film goes beyond being an intimate portrait of a country, and makes us reflect upon colonialism and post-colonialism, capitalism and anti-capitalism, and what keeps us going as humanity. ” – Göteborg Film Festival's Jury Statement:

""Eloquent and sensitive. Dreamlike quality interrupted by occasional bursts of violence. Balanced glimpse into the consequences of Colombian's much-heralded peace accord." ” – Nick Holdsworth / The European Documentary Magazine

The Producers


Jenni Kivistö - Director/Writer/Editor

Jenni Kivistö is a documentary director who has lived and studied in Colombia for 6 years before moving back to Finland. She graduated from the Black Maria film school in 2013, and is currently studying Documentary Film master programme in Aalto University. Her short film Äiti (Mother, 2016) was awarded the Silver Mikeldi Documentary at ZINEBI and has been screened at mayor festivals like Clermont-Ferrand and Cairo International Film Festival. Her first feature-length documentary, Land Within (2016), had its world premiere at DOK Leipzig in 2016 as part of the Next Masters competition series.








Jussi Rastas - Director/Writer/Editor

Jussi Rastas is a Finnish documentarist who has lived 4 years in South America, in Colombia, Peru and Chile, and studied cinematography in Spain (ESCAC, Escola Superior de Cinema i Audiovisuals de Catalunya). He has filmed and produced a feature documentary Knucklebonehead (2013, screened at Gothenburg IFF, DocPoint, Helsinki IFF, DocsDF), a co-production with the Finnish Broadcasting Company Yle. In recent years, Jussi has directed and filmed several documentary short films and worked as a director and cinematographer for the Red Cross in conflict zones in Ukraine, Syria and Africa.

Making The Film


Director's Statement

We both had lived in Colombia and South America for years, but we never thought to make a film about the Colombian conflict. Initially, as foreigners, we both felt we didn’t have anything to say about such an extensive topic. However, by coincidence we were offered an opportunity to film in a guerrilla camp, which was suddenly possible due to the peace agreement.

In the jungle we were surprised as the alleged terrorists didn’t feel like we had imagined. They seemed like ordinary people. Around us there were also thousands of poverty-stricken farming families that were openly cultivating coca and making cocaine. This all was very common in the region - not a shady and protected secret as we had thought. Many of our preconceptions proved to be too simple.

The original idea was to make a poetic film about peace. But as the people we met began to face challenges, we felt important to start following the escalating situation. The much-celebrated peace did not seem so obvious anymore. Soon we began to sense that we were in the middle of something big and that the reality at hand was more complex than we had understood.

As the opposing forces were clearly polarized, we felt it was essential to get close to them in order to understand the ongoing situation better. By lucky coincidences, we met not only Ernesto, but also a politician that strongly opposes the peace agreement and an aristocrat who takes us 500 years back to the times of the Spanish conquest - to the roots of the current circumstances.

Unexpectedly, we found ourselves close to people who opposed each other yet were very open to discuss difficult matters with foreign filmmakers – an audience seen as neutral and not part of the conflict. This was an opportunity to open windows for the audience to better understand the different realities that intertwine to give rise to this chaotic situation.

Although the film takes place in Colombia, it deals with universal topics about people balancing at the edge of their morals in an unequal context where money and power are at the root of everything. The film portrays individuals who wish the best for their country and are willing to take action, but find themselves in difficult situations.

The characters’ dilemma can be seen connected to a greater story about colonialism and post-colonialism, capitalism and anti-capitalism, and sheds light on the ways our civilization is organized. Our aim with the film is to raise constructive discussion not to divide people, but to understand different realities and bring them closer to each other.

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