Hot Docs 2020 (Online): Our Review of ‘A Colombian Family’

Posted in Hot Docs 2020 (Online) by - May 30, 2020
Hot Docs 2020 (Online): Our Review of ‘A Colombian Family’

Two women mourn a man even though they are countries apart. The first woman is Yira, a doctor, who lights an incense and touches a glass of water whenever she wants to talk to her father. He was a social leader that Colombian nationalists accuse of being a rebel. She returns to Colombia after a decade of exile. The second is her mother Ruby Castano, who keeps her husband’s legacy alive by caring for her family and country.

Yira and Ruby have moments when they bicker and bond. Sometimes, these arguments about Yira’s smoking or the way Yira’s daughter Marion distracts from Ruby’s work. Sometimes they take breaks from these sessions by talking to the camera about how Colombia’s politics affect them in a personal level. Eventually, those personal effects bubble to the surface. They argue about whether it is safe for both women to live at home or if it is better to leave.

A Colombian Family captures a year in the life of these girls and women along with the historical burden they carry. That means that this movie is a mix of stuff, and that stuff includes their riveting, intelligent arguments. At other times it shows the minutiae of their daily life or their travels throughout the country. There are also some moments where it shows archive video that makes for uncomfortable viewing.

But as I write this, I cannot negate the effect that most of the film can give its audience. One of its key assets are its interviews, when Ruby retells what the nationalists exactly did to her. Other touching moments include their visit to Ruby’s husband’s grave and remember lighter moments. It shows that even if both women have different versions of hope and where to find it, that it’s something both fight for.

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While Paolo Kagaoan is not taking long walks in shrubbed areas, he occasionally watch movies and write about them. His credentials are as follows: he has a double major in English and Art History. This means that, for example, he will gush at the art direction in the Amityville house and will want to live there, which is a terrible idea because that house has ghosts. Follow him @paolokagaoan on Instagram but not while you're working.
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