Discovering Luis Ospina: The Bold Voice of Colombian Cinema

Last Updated: June 17, 2024By

Discovering Luis Ospina: The Bold Voice of Colombian Cinema


Jorge Carvalho’s short documentary takes us into the world of Luis Ospina, a groundbreaking Colombian documentarian and filmmaker. Ospina, who founded the Grupo de Cali, was from the Colombian city of Cali. This artistic group included the director Carlos Mayolo and the writer Andrés Caicedo, whose tragic death at 25 made him a legendary figure in Colombian literature. These artists formed in radical opposition to what they saw as the boring and self-satisfied nature of Colombian cinema at the time. They were influenced by leftist filmmaking trends, especially after Godard’s New Wave.


The Rebel Spirit of Luis Ospina

Ospina, who studied in California, had a deep respect for American filmmakers like Hawks and Ford, and surprisingly, he admired Jerry Lewis as well. His work and the Grupo de Cali were celebrated with a retrospective at London’s Tate Modern in 2014, showing the lasting impact of their contributions.


A Peek into the Interviews

The interviews with Ospina, done in Lisbon in 2018, took place just a year before he passed away. By then, he was noticeably older and not in the best health. Despite this, the documentary captures the fiery passion and boldness that marked his career. Ospina was known for his sharp criticism of the Escobar-ization of Colombia, although he candidly admitted that he had experienced a lot of Escobar’s product during his youth.

Unveiling the Cult Classics

Carvalho highlights two of Ospina’s cult classics. One is the 27-minute mockumentary “Agarrando Pueblo” (Grabbing People), also known as “The Vampires of Poverty” from 1978. In this film, a fake German camera crew roams around Cali, staging scenes of Latin American poverty for European TV, which provokes genuine outrage from the onlookers. Another significant work is “Pura Sangre,” a vampire satire that critiques capitalism. The story revolves around a wealthy old man with a rare blood condition who requires regular blood infusions from young men to survive.

Ospina’s Complex View on Cinema

Ospina believed that cinema often exploited its subjects. His approach to documentaries was never straightforward, always reflecting this complex perspective. Carvalho’s documentary serves as a valuable introduction to Ospina, shedding light on an influential figure in contemporary Colombian culture.

By watching this documentary, you get a sense of the man behind the camera and his relentless drive to challenge and change the landscape of Colombian cinema.

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