Ciro Guerra

Ciro Guerra

Colombian filmmaker Ciro Guerra wove magical realism into stories of his native country and its people into a trio of award-winning features, including the Oscar-nominated "Embrace of the Serpent" (2015). Born in the town of Rio de Oro, Colombia, Guerra studied film and television at the National University of Colombia before directing a trio of shorts - the live action "Silence" (1998) and "Alma" (2001) and the animated short "Intento" (2002) - and "Documental Siniestro: Jairo Pinilla, Cineasta" ("Sinister Documentary: Jairo Pinilla, Filmmaker," 1999), which focused on the eponymous Colombian cult director. In 2004, Guerra released his first feature-length directorial effort, "Wandering Shadows," a drama about a disabled man whose Dickensian life in a Bogota barrio is improved by a mysterious stranger. "Shadows" won the Films in Progress award from the San Sebastian International Film Festival, and paved the way for his second feature, "Los viajes del viento" ("The Wind Journeys," 2009), with Colombian musician Marciano Martinez as a folk musician who embarks on a journey to return his accordion - an instrument supposedly won in a duel with the Devil - to his former master. Another critical success, the film earned Guerra the Award of the City of Rome at the 2009 Cannes Film Festival, and was selected as the Colombian entry for Best Foreign Language Film at the 82nd Academy Awards, though it did not receive the nomination. More importantly, "Journeys" established him as an international director with considerable promise, a reputation he confirmed with his third feature, "Embrace of the Serpent." Shot on location in a remote corner of the Amazon River in Colombia, and photographed in stark black-and-white imagery, the film concerned a four-decade search for a legendary plant with alleged healing powers conducted by a shaman - the last member of his tribe - and two scientists. Based on the diaries of the real scientists, "Serpent" was hailed by international critics, and earned a slew of laurels, from a 2016 Oscar nomination for Best Foreign Language Film to the Art Cinema award at the 2015 Cannes Film Festival and the Alfred P. Sloan Prize at the Sundance Film Festival.