10 Colombian documentaries to see

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After the 10 must-see Colombian films, here’s our selection – still totally subjective – of 10 Colombian documentaries that are well worth a look!

Historically, Colombia has been a major producer of documentaries of all kinds. While the “Cali Group” has contributed to the development of the genre by pushing it towards its artistic side, recent years have seen a boom in the production of social documentaries, each one better than the last.

In this article, we’ve tried to give you some ideas for documentaries on a range of subjects, some dealing with Colombian society, others with its difficult past or its current struggles, others showing the beauty of the country, all or almost all offering a filmmaker’s eye, an often personal and touching point of view.

Disclaimer: we apologize in advance for any grammatical or syntactic errors, as our native language is not English (we're a Colombian-French couple), so we hope you'll forgive us and still enjoy the information we share with you! Please note that all the information on our blog is based on our own experience, and is checked and updated regularly.

Jerico, el Infinito Vuelo de los Días

Documentaries on Colombia

Filmed in the beautiful, colorful village of Jerico in the mountains south of Medellin, this documentary is a masterpiece of humanity, a gallery of all-female characters. The encounters and conversations between the various personalities of different ages and social conditions follow one another and take the heart away. Life stories and wisdom, deep and authentic facets of the female spirit, celebrate a certain idea of Colombia. Special mention for the soundtrack.

About the Colombian documentary Jerico

Original title: Jerico, el Infinito Vuelo de los Días
A documentary by Catalina Mesa
Release date: 2018
Running time: 1h20

La Buena Vida

Colombian documentaries

La Buena Vida tells the story of the Wayuu village of Tamaquito in southern Guajira, close to the huge Cerrejon coal mine. Over the course of several months, the documentary shows the indigenous community’s struggle to assert their rights against the mining giant. While the expropriation of the inhabitants to exploit their land and expand the mine seems to be a foregone conclusion, the Wayuu community will do everything in its power to assert their rights. A clash of cultures that plunges us into the reality of indigenous life in the Guajira and shows us the unbridled cynicism of multinationals.

More on the Colombian documentary La Buena Vida

Original title: La Buena Vida
A documentary by Jens Schanze (German)
Release date: 2015
Running time : 1h30

Colombia, Magia Salvaje

Colombian documentary

Colombia Magia Salvaje is a kind of American-style documentary, “National Geographic” style, totally focused on highlighting Colombia’s exceptional natural heritage. The film is accompanied by an assertive, if simplistic, environmentalist message. Still, the images are literally breathtaking, and for that reason alone, it’s well worth watching!

More on the Colombian documentary Colombia, Magia Salvaje

Original title: Colombia, Magia Salvaje
A documentary by Mike Slee (English)
Release date: 2015
Running time: 1h30

Thinking like a mountain

Documentaries on Colombia

Farmers and craftsmen, the Arhuacos live in the Sierra Nevada mountains of Santa Marta, Colombia. The effects of climate change and Colombia’s bloody armed conflict are threatening their way of life and their environment, which is also being undermined by the mining companies nibbling away at their land. Alexander Hick spent months working with them to gain their acceptance, so that he could film and pass on the Sierra’s message.

More on the Colombian documentary Arhuacos, big brothers survivors of time

Original title: Thinking like a Mountain
A documentary by Alexander Hick (German)
Release date: 2018
Running time: 52 min in TV version/1h10 in long version

Totó

Colombian documentary

Toto is a journey through the Colombian Caribbean, its people, landscapes, traditions and music. A journey that allows us to understand the songs of its women and the rumbling drums of Totó, La Momposina, an icon of Colombian culture and music. In this documentary, figures from Colombian Caribbean music talk to us about their culture and traditions.

More on the Colombian documentary Totó

Original title: Totó
A documentary by Héctor Francisco Córdoba Castaño
Release date: 2012
Running time: 1h20

Where to see Totó

Totó can be viewed on Youtube (HD & VO)

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Todo comenzó por el fin

Colombian documentary

A self-portrait of the ” Cali Group”, a group of cinephile friends who revolutionized Colombian cinema in the midst of the madness of the 70s and 80s in Colombia. These artists, whose movement is also known as “Caliwood”, produced a number of dramas and documentaries that are now part of Colombia’s artistic heritage. The film looks back at this period of teeming creativity through the eyes and voice of one of its main protagonists, filmmaker Luis Ospina. But it’s also the story of a struggle for survival, as Luis Ospina fell ill during the making of the film.

More about the Colombian documentary Todo comenzó por el fin

Original title: Todo comenzó por el fin
A documentary by Luis Ospina
Release date: 2016
Running time: 3h20

Ciro y Yo

Documentaries on Colombia

Miguel Salazar recounts the life of his friend Ciro Galindo, a survivor who, after fleeing war for sixty years, dreams of living in peace and dignity. A documentary to understand or at least apprehend the armed conflict in Colombia in all its complexity. Here, nothing is black and white, there are no good guys and bad guys, just a man who has suffered violence from all sides: guerrillas, paramilitaries, narco-traffickers and the Colombian army, everything is intertwined. A life that sums up the history of Colombia, a documentary that helps us understand, not just sensitively.

More on the Colombian documentary Ciro y Yo

Original title: Ciro y Yo
A documentary by Miguel Salazar
Release date: 2018
Running time: 1h17

The Anaconda Trail

Documentaries on Colombia

Le sentier d’Anaconda is a documentary that echoes Ciro Guerra’s “Embrace of the Serpent”, as it takes up the theme of rubber exploitation in the Amazon rainforest and follows in the footsteps of ethnobotanist Richard Evans Schultes. We follow a writer and an anthropologist who wish to accompany the project to create a protected ecological corridor linking the Andes to the Atlantic Ocean. Along the Río Apaporis, which marks the border between the Guaviare and Caqueta rivers, the Anaconda Trail is above all a tribute to the Amazon rainforest, its past, present and future, where the indigenous voice is central.

More on the Colombian documentary The Anaconda Trail

Original title: El sendero de la Anaconda
A documentary by Alessandro Angulo Brancestin
Release date: 2019
Running time : 1h30

Sumerce

Colombian documentary

“They came for our seeds and now they’re coming for our water.” This sentence sums up the problematic of this documentary, which plunges into the heart of the peasant struggle to protect the páramos against illegal mining and the large-scale exploitation of natural resources by big business. The setting is Boyaca and Cundinamarca, but it could be anywhere in Colombia. Sumerce is a magnificent, ultra-contemporary documentary about the struggle for survival of a culture and the environment that surrounds it.

More on the Colombian documentary Sumerce

Original title: Sumerce
A documentary by Victoria Solano
Release date: 2020
Running time: 1h20

Don Ca

Documentaries on Colombia

Don Ca is the portrait of a complex character, neither an exploitative settler, nor a Good Samaritan, nor a misfit hippie, just a man who has stepped off the beaten track. A documentary about the freedom to follow a different path from that proposed by modern society. A freedom that continues to be denied to Afro-Colombian communities, not by the whip, but by violence and poverty. A dive into the village of Guapi on Colombia’s Pacific coast.

More on the Colombian documentary Don Ca

Original title: Don Ca
A documentary by Patricia Ayala Ruiz
Release date: 2012
Running time: 1h30

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Authors

Angélica & Samuel

We are Angélica and Samuel, a French-Colombian couple, professional photographers and web editors specializing in travel to Colombia. We created this blog to change the image of the country, help you prepare your trip and inspire you to discover Colombia in a different way!

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