Birds of Passage
Pájaros de verano
Panorama | Contemporary World Cinema
Beginning in 1968 and spanning 12 years, Ciro Guerra and Cristina Gallego’s hard-nosed drama focuses on one desert-dwelling family, members of the indigenous Wayuu people, and its growing involvement in the early stages of the Colombian drug trade. The Wayuu have lived with their own ideas of honour and tradition, and have been wary of outsiders encroaching on their way of life, but that is about to change when Rapayet (José Acosta), a young Wayuu man about to marry into a family dominated by the mystical and yet dourly pragmatic matriarch Ursula (a riveting turn from Carmiña Martínez) starts dealing marijuana. Soon, the easy money to be made has the clan—led by an increasingly ruthless Ursula—up to their necks in a world dominated by violence… Structured around five chapters, each with its own accompanying title and song, and replete with Wayuu traditions and costumes, Guerra and Gallego’s taut drama is a crime story like you’ve never seen before.
"A textured and utterly unique re-imagining of the family crime saga… Exploring the sometimes invisible and sometimes direct transgressions of this particular Wayuu family, Birds of Passage offers a lesson about the destabilization of traditional modes of life and a fascinating glimpse into a little-understood community. That the filmmakers wrap it into familiar genre territory makes it all the more impressive."—Christina Newland, Sight & Sound