About

At once blistering and poetic, the ravages of colonialism cast a dark shadow over the South American landscape in EMBRACE OF THE SERPENT, the third feature by Ciro Guerra. Filmed in stunning black-and-white, SERPENT centers on Karamakate, an Amazonian shaman and the last survivor of his people, and the two scientists who, over the course of 40 years, build a friendship with him. The film was inspired by the real-life journals of two explorers (Theodor Koch-Grünberg and Richard Evans Schultes) who traveled through the Colombian Amazon during the last century in search of the sacred and difficult-to-find psychedelic Yakruna plant.

Jan Bijvoet - "Theo"

Jan was born in Antwerp in 1966. He has been one of the artistic directors and actors of the Antarctica Theater since 2005. He has also performed in film and television, and has guest-starred in a number of series. He has starred in the films AD FUNDUM, THE BROKEN CIRCLE BREAKDOWN (Academy Award Nominee for Best Foreign Language Film), and BORGMAN (Official Selection – Competition, Cannes 2013). In 2007, he was nominated for the Flemish Culture Award of Scenic Arts. Referring to the German explorer who was the inspiration for his character, he reflects that even though Grünberg tried to integrate with the native people, he could not let go of his white spirit. “He has the western way of thinking, and he wants to carry hundreds of things to study. Love is possession, too. He is also afraid of death. He doesn’t understand why, but it’s because deep down, he is a materialist since his formation, even though he tries to drift away from it.”

Brionne Davis - "Evan"

Brionne was born in Texas and started acting at a very early age, playing Tom Sawyer. He has starred and taken leading roles in more than 30 independent films, including REST STOP, WITCHES OF OZ, PANDEMIA, NARCISSIST (2014), SAVAGED (2013), DON’T LOOK BACK (2008), and HOLIDAYS WITH HEATHER (2006). In New York, Brionne starred in the Theatre Row Adaptation of Sam Shepard’s True West. He has appeared in many theater productions all across the country, including Wallenburg at the Soho Play house, and A Noble Exile, in Los Angeles and Nueva York, a one-man show that he wrote and produced, inspired by the writings of Tennessee Williams. Brionne’s character was inspired by the great botanist and explorer Richard Evans Schultes, and he feels close to him in his love and search of plants and nature.

Antonio Bolívar Salvador - "Old Karamakate"

Antonio is one of the last survivors of the Ocaina people. He resides near Leticia and had some previous experiences in filmmaking, but he prefers not to speak about them because he feels that they were disrespectful to his culture. Besides playing one of the main characters, Antonio also served as interpreter for the Tikuna, Cubeo, Huitoto languages and even English, as he became the teacher of the international actors. Antonio represents the best of the Amazonian people, willing to trust the foreigners, to transmit their knowledge and thankful to be treated respectfully. That’s the most important aspect of the film to him: “It is a film that shows the Amason, the lungs of the world, the greater purifying filter and the most valuable of indigenous culture. That is its greatest achievement.”

Nilbio Torres - "Young Karamakate"

Nilbio has never set foot on a gym; his amazing physique has been sculpted by the hardships of the jungle and the hard work he’s done since he was little. The 30-year-old has only ever worked in agriculture and this is his first experience with the cinema. He has a hard time expressing himself in Spanish, as he speaks mostly Cubeo. But he manages to find words to tell what this experience has meant to him. He feels the film is faithful to the story of his ancestors. “What Ciro is doing with this film is an homage to the memory of our elders, in the time before; the way the white men treated the natives, the rubber exploitation. I’ve asked the elders how it was and it is as seen on the film, that’s why we decided to support it. For the elders and myself it is a memory of the ancestors and their knowledge.”

Miguel Dionisio Ramos - "Manduca"

Miguel was born and raised in Nazareth, a Tikuna community of the Amazon, 26 years ago. He is now a student of physical education in Bogotá and is about to achieve his greatest goal: to become a professional. He defines his participation in the film as a new experience in his life, this time from the field of art and corporal expression, which reinforced his thinking and showed him how to see life from different perspectives. He believes this film should be shared not only with the people of the locations, but all across the country, with all the indigenous peoples in Leticia and the Amazon, with the leaders, in schools and universities. Miguel is the voice of many Manducas, a voice that, far away from the so-called civilization, claims for a more civilized attitude towards Colombia’s indigenous communities.

Jan Bijvoet - Theo

Jan Bijvoet was born in Antwerp in 1966. He has been one of the artistic directors and actors of the Antarctica Theater since 2005. He has also performed in film and television, guest-starring in a number of series. He has starred in the films AD FUNDUM, THE BROKEN CIRCLE BREAKDOWN (Academy® Award nominee), and BORGMAN (Official Selection – Competition, Cannes 2013). In 2007, he was nominated for the Flemish Culture Award of Scenic Arts. Referring to the German explorer who was the inspiration for his character, he reflects that even though Grünberg tried to integrate with the native people, he could not let go of his white spirit. “He had the western way of thinking, and he wanted to carry hundreds of things to study. Love is possession, too. He is also afraid of death. He doesn’t understand why, but it’s because deep down, he is a materialist since his formation, even though he tries to drift away from it.”

Brionne Davis - Evan

Brionne Davis was born in Texas and started acting at a very early age, playing Tom Sawyer. He has starred and taken leading roles in more than 30 independent feature length and short films and television series, including REST STOP: DON’T LOOK BACK (2008), DOROTHY AND THE WITCHES OF OZ (2012), Pandemic (2007), NARCISSIST (2014), SAVAGED (2013), and HOLIDAYS WITH HEATHER (2006). In New York, Brionne starred in the Theatre Row adaptation of Sam Shepard’s “True West.” He has appeared in many theater productions all across the country, including “Wallenburg” at the Soho Playhouse, “A Noble Exile” in Los Angeles and “Nueva York,” a one-man show that he wrote  and produced, inspired by the writings of Tennessee Williams. Davis’ character “Evan” in EMBRACE OF THE SERPENT was inspired by the great botanist and explorer Richard Evans Schultes, and he feels close to him in his love of and search for plants and nature.

Antonio Bolívar Savador - Old Karamakate

Antonio Bolívar Salvador is one of the last survivors of the Ocaina people. He resides near Leticia and has had some previous experiences in filmmaking, but he prefers not to speak about them because he feels that they were disrespectful to his culture. Besides playing one of the main characters, he also served as interpreter for the Tikuna, Cubeo, Huitoto languages and even English, as he became the teacher of the international actors. He represents the best of the Amazonian people: willing to trust foreigners, to transmit their knowledge and thankful to be treated respectfully. That’s the most important aspect of the film to him: “It is a film that shows the Amazon, the lungs of the world, the greater purifying filter and the most valuable of indigenous cultures. That is its greatest achievement.”

Nilbio Torres - Young Karamakate

Nilbio Torres has never set foot in a gym; his amazing physique has been sculpted by the hardships of the jungle and the hard work he’s done since he was little. The 30- year-old has only worked in agriculture and this is his first experience with the cinema. He has a hard time expressing himself in Spanish, as he speaks mostly Cubeo. But he manages to find words to tell what this experience has meant to him. He feels the film is faithful to the story of his ancestors. “What Ciro is doing with this film is an homage to the memory of our elders, in the time before: the way the white men treated the natives, the rubber exploitation. I’ve asked the elders how it was and it is as seen in the film, that’s why we decided to support it. For the elders and myself it is a memory of the ancestors and their knowledge.”

Yauenkü Miguee - Manduca

Yauenkü Miguee was born and raised in Nazareth, a Tikuna community of the Amazon, 26 years ago. He is now a student of physical education in Bogotá and is about to achieve his greatest goal: to become a professional. He defines his participation in the film as a new experience in his life, this time from the field of art and corporal expression, which reinforced his thinking and showed him how to see life from different perspectives. He believes this film should be shared not only with the people of the locations, but all across the country, with all the indigenous peoples in Leticia and the Amazon, with the leaders, in schools and universities. He is the voice of many Manducas, a voice that, far away from the so-called civilization, cries out for a more civilized attitude towards Colombia’s indigenous communities.

Ciro Guerra - Director

CIRO GUERRA was born on Río de Oro (Cesar, Colombia) in 1981 and studied film and television at the National University of Colombia. At the age of 21, after directing four multi-award-winning short films, he wrote and directed LA SOMBRA DEL CAMINANTE (THE WANDERING SHADOWS), his feature directorial debut, which won awards at the San Sebastian, Toulouse, Mar de Plata, Trieste, Havana, Quito, Cartagena, Santiago, and Warsaw film festivals, and was selected for 60 more, including Tribeca, Locarno, Seoul, Pesaro, Seattle, Hamburg, Kolkata, Rio de Janeiro, Istanbul, and Guadalajara.

His second feature film, LOS VIAJES DEL VIENTO (THE WIND JOURNEYS) was part of the Official Selection – Un Certain Regard of the Cannes Film Festival in 2009. It was released in 17 countries and selected in 90 festivals, including Toronto, Rotterdam, San Sebastián, Hong Kong, Jerusalem, and London, receiving different awards in Cannes, Santa Bárbara, Málaga, Santiago, Bogotá, and Cartagena. It was recently selected in a national critic’s poll as one of the top 10 most important Colombian films in history.

Both films were chosen to represent Colombia in the Academy Awards.

EMBRACE OF THE SERPENT is his third feature film.

Cristina Gallego - Producer

CRISTINA GALLEGO was born in Bogotá in 1978 and graduated from Film & TV School at the National University of Colombia and from Advertising and Merchadising at the Politécnico Grancolombiano. In the production area, she has participated in the training workshops of Film Business School 2010, ACE Mundus 2012 (atelier du cinéma européen).

In 2001, together with Ciro Guerra and Diana Bustamante, she founded Ciudad Lunar, production company of the feature films LA SOMBRA DEL CAMINANTE (THE WANDERING SHADOWS) in 2004 (Winner of 15 international film awards) and LOS VIAJES DEL VIENTO (THE WIND JOURNEYS) in 2009, which was selected in the Cannes Film Festival. They were co-produced with Argentina, Holland, and Germany, and supported by Ibermedia, Berlinale’s World Cinema Fund, Cannes Cinefondation, and Rotterdam’s Hubert Bals Fund. Both films were directed by Ciro Guerra. Her third feature film, EDIFICIO ROYAL (BUILDING ROYAL), directed by Iván Wild, was selected in Biarritz, Viña del Mar, Miami, La Habana, Lima, Aruba, and Cartagena Film Festivals.

She is also coproducer of CECILIA (2012), directed by Verónica Rodríguez, and the documentary film EL VIAJE DEL ACORDÉON, (THE ACCORDION’S JOURNEY), directed by Andrew Tucker and Rey Sagbini, which won the Audience Award at the 2013 Cartagena Film Festival. She’s currently developing PÁJAROS DE VERANO (BIRDS OF PASSAGE), which will be directed by Ciro Guerra for 2017, and co-producing the film DEMONIOS TUS OJOS (SISTER OF MINE), directed by the Spanish director Pedro Aguilera, whose previous film, LA INFLUENCIA, was selected for the Quinzaine des Realisateurs 2007. All of her films have been made through co-production. Among her partners are Cine Sud Promotion (Fr), Razor Films (Ge), Aurora (Ge), Volya Films (Ne), NorteSur (Ve) and CineOjo (Ar). Nationally, her projects have been supported with private funding from the two most important TV Channels in the country: Caracol and RCN.

She’s a member of the Colombian Film Academy, representative of the producers in the Cinema Guild, and member of the Association of Producers ACE Network (Ateliers du cinema Européen).

Screenings

No Screenings at this time...

Press

  • “A visually mesmerizing exploration of man, nature and the destructive powers of colonialism, Embrace of the Serpent (El abrazo de la serpiente) marks an impressively realized third feature from Colombian writer-director Ciro Guerra, featuring knockout black-and-white cinematography and an array of breathtaking locations.”Jordan Mintzer, THE HOLLYWOOD REPORTER
  • "An intense journey and very rewarding visual feast." Nathaniel Rogers, THE FILM EXPERIENCE
  • "Shot on sumptuous Super 35, the black and white photography lends itself to the film's sorrowful ode to a world devastated, but it is the ceaseless teeming life of the soundtrack that transports the audience into the midst of the rainforest." Ben Nicholson, CINEVUE
  • "Guerra’s stark allegory of the extinction of indigenous cultures at the hands of well-meaning but ignorant white Europeans is powerfully resonant in this gorgeously shot film, touted as the first feature to be shot in the Colombian jungle in over three decades." Nicholas Bell, IONCINEMA
  • "Embrace of the Serpent is simply a work of art, and one of the most singular cinematic experiences you could hope to have in Cannes, or anywhere really. It's an absorbing, even thrilling head trip. It is a Heart-of-Darkness voyage of discovery. It is a lament for all the lost plants and peoples of the world." Jessica Kiang,THE PLAYLIST

Contact

For press inquiries, please contact:
Sydney Tanigawa
212-219-4029 ext. 41
Sydney@Oscilloscope.net
For booking inquiries, please contact:
Andrew Carlin
Oscilloscope Laboratories
630-445-1215
andrew@oscilloscope.net
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