Anthology Film Archives

LISTEN, LOOK!: THE FILMS OF LUIS OSPINA

October 7 – October 18

Following on from our September tribute to Colombian-American artist Karen Lamassonne, who was a participant in the Grupo de Cali (Cali Group) that formed in Colombia in the 1980s, we present a retrospective devoted to one of the Group’s central figures: Luis Ospina. Ospina, who passed away in 2019, directed numerous films – fictional, documentary, experimental, and hybrid; both alone and in collaboration with filmmakers and artists including Carlos Mayolo, Andrés Caicedo, Jorge Nieto, and Lamassonne – and was also a tireless force in Colombian cinema as a film critic and the founder and director of the Cali International Film Festival (FICCALI). His best known films abroad are THE VAMPIRES OF POVERTY (1978), a ground-breaking, satirical mockumentary that demonstrated his and Mayolo’s critique of documentary cinema’s exploitation of third-world suffering (which they dubbed “poverty porn”), and PURE BLOOD (1982), a fictional feature that uses the metaphor of vampirism to critique capitalism in Latin America.

This retrospective includes both those classic works, as well as a wide-ranging selection of experimental and documentary films from throughout his career. Taken together, these works reveal Ospina as a filmmaker with a razor-sharp socio-political vision, an openness to radically different formal approaches, a profound engagement with the history of the cinema, and, perhaps above all, a dedication to the cultural life and artistic communities of Colombia – as evidenced by his filmic portraits of both Cali itself and of friends and collaborators such as the writers Andrés Caicedo and Fernando Vallejo and artists Lorenzo Jaramillo and Pedro Manrique Figueroa.

“The transgressive social visions of BACURAU and PARASITE may have helped prepare us for the chaos and iniquity of the COVID-19 era, but long before those films of class warfare, there was Luis Ospina. In Latin America, the revolution had a blueprint in the brazen works of the late Colombian director, who made over 30 films energized with the snap of genre and the spirit of revolt. Ospina was significantly younger than most directors of the Pan-American Cinema Novo – e.g., Brazil’s Glauber Rocha, Argentina’s Fernando Solanas, Cuba’s Julio García Espinosa – but such generational and aesthetic distance suited Ospina just fine. [...] A perennial outsider, he was reluctant to enshrine himself as a persona or a movement. Which seems ironic, of course, because when he co-wrote the 1978 ‘Poverty-Porn Manifesto’ with Mayolo, he put into words the anger that to this day Latin American filmmakers express at seeing their countries’ misery exploited, and exported abroad. His ethical concern with representation on screen, not only in documentary but cinema as a whole, fuels the preoccupations of directors like Mendonça and Dornelles. And the idea that took hold of Caliwood back in the 1970s – that provincial stories are, in fact, universal, and each province is its own world – resonates strongly today.” –Ela Bittencourt, FILM COMMENT

This film series is presented on the occasion of the exhibition “Karen Lamassonne: Ruido / Noise”. Organized by former Swiss Institute Director Simon Castets, Curator at Large Laura McLean-Ferris, and Senior Curator Alison Coplan, the exhibition will be on view at Swiss Institute (38 St Marks Pl) from September 14, 2022 to January 8, 2023 (after which it will travel to the KW Institute for Contemporary Art, Berlin and Museo de Arte Moderno de Medellín). For more info visit: https://www.swissinstitute.net/exhibition/karen-lamassonne-ruido-noise/

Special thanks to Lina Gonzalez; Karen Lamassonne; Henry Caicedo (Cinemateca de Bogotá); Oscar Alberto Campo Hurtado; Eduardo Carvajal; Alexandra Falla, Ricardo Cuesta, and Rito Torres (Fundación Patrimonio Fílmico Colombiano); Luis Esguerra & Mateo Suárez (Bruma Cine); Amanda Garay (Zona A); Léon Kruijswijk (KW Institute for Contemporary Art); Claudia Triana de Vargas (Proimagenes Colombia); and Agnès Wildenstein (Doclisboa).

KAREN LAMASSONNE WILL BE HERE IN PERSON TO PRESENT SELECTED SCREENINGS!

Upcoming Screenings

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