Cristina Gallego, Ciro Guerra

Colombia, Mexico, Denmark, France, 2018 / 125 min / Wayuu, Spanish and English OV with Dutch and French subt. (OV with NL & FR or EN subt.) / Drama

A family crime saga set in the Colombian marijuana boom of the 1970s.

In the 1970s, as the youth of America embrace hippie culture, the marijuana bonanza hits Colombia, quickly turning farmers into seasoned businessmen. In the Guajira desert, an indigenous Wayuu family takes a leading role in this new venture and discovers the perks of wealth and power. But when greed, passion and honour collide, a fratricidal war breaks out that will put their lives, their culture and their ancestral traditions at stake.

“Perfectly blending professional and non-professional actors, trappings of Western influence, and exquisite colourful Wayuu attire, Gallego and Guerra’s Birds of Passage is a fascinating tale of Shakespearean proportions.” Diana Sanchez, Toronto International Film Festival


Fri 08/03 10:30 Kinepolis Kirchberg OV with EN subt. Public
Sun 10/03 21:00 Cinémathèque OV with EN subt. Public
Thu 14/03 18:30 Ciné Utopia OV with FR subt. Public

“A south-of-the-border drug epic like you've never seen before, […] Marijuana may as well be a metaphor for any outside influence on such an enclave, as the filmmakers use the high-stakes business to demonstrate how modern temptations of all kinds threaten to pull the Pushaina clan away from their ancient, honor-driven system of customs and rituals. Few films have captured quite so powerfully the tension between the old and new worlds — a feat “Birds of Passage” accomplishes while simultaneously allowing audiences to channel the Wayuu’s surrealistic view of their surroundings, where spirits walk the earth, and wise women interpret their dreams.” Peter Debruge, Variety, 09/05/2018

“While the ending does get into Scarface territory and the numerous weddings, funerals and other ritualistic gatherings evoke the Godfather saga, the mob classic that most comes to mind is The Sopranos.” Jordan Hoffman, The Guardian, 9/05/2018

“I don’t think the movie would work half as well if it didn’t take the time in the beginning to live in the details and the texture — almost in a documentary way — of the world it depicts. You become almost like an anthropologist: you’re examining this culture and these rituals before you really know what the narrative is going to be. It’s a courageous thing to do as a filmmaker, because there’s often this impulse that you want to set your gambit right away, but this film is brave enough to let that happen slowly.” Damien Chazelle, The New York Times, 05/10/2018

“A rare bird indeed, Cristina Gallego and Ciro Guerra’s Colombian crime epic is like an indigenous The Godfather. […] It’s like watching the flipside of American Made, following what happens on the ground after Tom Cruise’s plane takes off, or Narcos without too much sensationalism — although Gallego and Guerra also deliver a fair amount of action during the film’s second half, even if much of the carnage takes place off-camera. […] It intelligently and assuredly explores how longstanding traditions can be gradually upended by drugs, money and outside influences.” Jordan Mintzer, The Hollywood Reporter, 9/05/2019

“Colombians are sick to the back teeth of filmmakers exploiting their troubled past, but Gallego and Guerra’s inspired take on the blood feud yarn and mob thriller is really unique and far from cheap genre thrills as it gets. Birds of Passage is an enthralling, powerful statement and lamentation on the drugs trade’s inevitable encroachment upon on indigenous peoples and how gangsters casually destroyed them.” Martyn Conterio, Cinevue, 10/05/2018

“Doubling down on the sensory experience of their past works, Colombian-born filmmakers Ciro Guerra (The Wind Journeys, MIFF 2009) and producer/editor-turned-director Cristina Gallego bring a unique perspective to bear on the time-honoured rags-to-riches drug saga. Almost mythical in its storytelling, Birds of Passage combines eye-popping traditional costumes and culture, an immersive atmosphere of surreal imagery and vivid sound design, and glorious widescreen cinematography that just demands to be seen on the biggest screen possible.” Melbourne International Film Festival 2018

“A gripping saga which traces the birth of the narcotrafficking industry which gutted Colombian society, the follow up to Embrace of the Serpent brings a fresh perspective, rejecting the overly familiar tropes of gangster movie.” Wendy Ide, ScreenDaily, 9/05/2018

  • Best Screenplay, Cairo International Film Festival, 2018 (Egypt)
  • Best Art Direction, Chicago International Film Festival, 2018 (USA)
  • Best Cinematography, Chicago International Film Festival, 2018 (USA)
  • Coral – Best Film, Havana Film Festival, 2018 (Cuba)
  • Jury Prize – Best Director, Lima Latin American Film Festival, 2018 (Peru)
  • Best Film – Honourable Mention, BFI London Film Festival, 2018 (UK)
  • FIPRESCI Prize – Best Film, Motovun Film Festival, 2018 (Croatia)
  • Best Film, Premios Fénix, 2018 (Mexico)
  • Best Music, Premios Fénix, 2018 (Mexico)
  • Best Actress – Carmiña Martínez, Premios Fénix, 2018 (Mexico)
Cast & Credits
Carmiña Martínez, José Acosta, Jhon Narváez, Natalia Reyes, José Vicente Cotes, Juan Martínez, Greider Meza
María Camila Arias, Jacques Toulemonde, based on an original idea by Cristina Gallego
David Gallego
Carlos García
Angélica Perea, Juan David Bernal
Leonardo Heiblum
Ciudad Lunar, Blond Indian Films, Pimienta Films, Films Boutique, Snowglobe
September Film Distribution

Cristina Gallego was born in Bogotá in 1978. She graduated from the School of Film at the National University of Colombia in 2003 where she continued to work until 2007 as a producer of educational and cultural television programmes. In 2001, together with Ciro Guerra, she founded Ciudad Lunar, a company that produced the acclaimed feature films Wandering Shadows (2004), The Wind Journeys (2009), and Embrace of the Serpent (2015), all directed by Ciro Guerra. She also worked as a producer for directors including Pedro Aguilera, Abner Benaim and Annemarie Jacir. She teaches at various film schools and has been invited as a speaker to the United Nations in Geneva. Birds of Passage (2018) is her directorial debut.

Ciro Guerra was born in Río de Oro, Colombia, in 1981. His first two films, Wandering Shadows (2004) and The Wind Journeys (2009) were selected for a number of international film festivals including Cannes, Toronto, San Sebastián, Rotterdam and Locarno, winning 40 international awards. Both films were chosen as Colombia’s entry for the Oscars and were released commercially in 20 countries. His third feature, Embrace of the Serpent (2015), won the Art Cinéma Award at the Director’s Fortnight in Cannes and became the first Colombian film to be nominated for an Oscar for Best Foreign Language Film.

  • Cristina Gallego
  • 2018 – Pájaros de verano
  • Ciro Guerra
  • 2018 – Pájaros de verano
  • 2015 – El abrazo de la serpiente
  • 2009 – Los viajes del viento
  • 2004 – La sombra del caminante