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César Augusto Acevedo - Camera D'or Winner 2015 / Interview

By Martin I. Petrov


César Augusto Acevedo is a Colombian filmmaker. Land and Shade is his first feature film, presented at this year’s Semaine de la Critique.

The story takes us to rural Colombia, where an old man returns to his family after many years of absence to find his son very ill and his wife in denial of leaving the land she so much loves. He is challenged to re-integrate into the family, while at the same time, the circumstances are indicative of a big change in their life. 


What is the vibe you get here in Cannes, your first impression from the reception of your film? 

I am very happy to be here and it was a big surprise to see how the audience received and understood the film. It was the first time I saw the film as well. Although people here do not know the background of the film, they responded pretty well and understood it. 


Can you tell me a bit more about the sociopolitical background of the film? 

We shot in the capital of the Cali area in Colombia. These fields are around 30 minutes outside the city and we got used to the rural environment, but it was interesting to hear that members of the audience found the film a bit apocalyptical. 


Would you say that the sociopolitical issues and the demands for change are similar in rural and urban areas in the country? 

It’s pretty much the same, because not only life is in danger but also identity and heritage. This is what I wanted to point out by presenting the field workers fighting for better working conditions. 


We see the grandfather returning home after many years. Was it his personal choice to leave or he was forced by the circumstances? 

It wasn't the most important fro me to speak about the reasons he left. I wanted to focus on his return and the progress in the family he wants to bring. I am talking about my own memories and my family, and it was important to show that past is not as important as the future. The big tree in the house garden symbolises the importance of family roots. The father is back to save the family and give them a new life, as opposed to the mother who doesn't want to leave. 


There is a scene where the little boy tells his grandfather to keep the window closed and he obeys without any objections. Is this a notion that he was afraid of reactions during his reintegration in the family? 

Yes, I wanted to show that the character is back, but he has lost his place in the family. His position has been taken by a strong female model, his wife, and he is challenged when rejoining the family after so many years. 


When the son gets really ill, the mother tells him that it’s probably time to leave, as it will be better for him. Is superstition around life and death still part of Colombian tradition? 

The son has a dilemma. He doesn't want to leave because it will be like following his father’s example. Also, I didn’t want to show the mother in the light of a selfish character who doesn't want to leave the past. In the beginning, the rest of the family misunderstands her because she is not ready to leave her life, this is something very new fro her. 


Your film is a co-production between many countries. How easy is the process of making an entirely Colombian film? 

Our film industry is still very small and we need producers from abroad to make a film. I am very glad that so many people instantly believed in my story and trusted me - it doesn't happen very easily in Colombia.


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