Embrace of the Serpent
August 15th, 2019

Embrace of the Serpent [2015]

Please join Cultivate Cinema Circle and Hallwalls Contemporary Arts Center as we present a year-long series entitled Post-Colonialisms: World Cinema and Human Consequence. We continue with Ciro Guerra’s Oscar-nominated Embrace of the Serpent [2015].

  • Screening Date: Thursday, August 15th, 2019 | 7:00pm
  • Venue: Hallwalls Contemporary Arts Center
  • Specifications: 2015 / 125 minutes / Spanish with English subtitles / Black and White & Color
  • Director(s): Ciro Guerra
  • Print: Supplied by Oscilloscope
  • Tickets: $8 general, $6 students & seniors, $5 members

Event Sponsors:

Venue Information:

341 Delaware Ave, Buffalo, NY 14202

TrailerSynopsisDirector StatementDirector BioLinks

Courtesy of press kit:

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.


  • Cannes Film Festival – 2015 – Winner: C.I.C.A.E. Award (Directors’ Fortnight)
  • Toronto International Film Festival – 2015
  • AFI Fest – 2015
  • Sundance Film Festival – 2016 – Winner: Alfred P. Sloan Feature Film Prize
  • Independent Spirit Awards – 2016 – Nominee: Best International Film
  • Academy Awards – 2016 – Nominee: Best Foreign Language Film of the Year

Courtesy of press kit:

Whenever I looked at a map of my country,
I was overwhelmed by great uncertainty.
Half of it was an unknown territory, a green sea, of which I knew nothing.
The Amazon, that unfathomable land, which we foolishly reduce to simple concepts. Coke, drugs, Indians, rivers, war.
Is there really nothing more out there?
Is there not a culture, a history?
Is there not a soul that transcends?
The explorers taught me otherwise.
Those men who left everything, who risked everything, to tell us about a world
we could not imagine.
Those who made first contact,
During one of the most vicious
holocausts man has ever seen.
Can man, through science and art, transcend brutality? Some men did.
The explorers have told their story.
The natives haven’t.
This is it.
A land the size of a whole continent, yet untold. Unseen by our own cinema.
That Amazon is lost now.
In the cinema, it can live again.

“Losing all the preconceptions that I had about storytelling, about the world, you know, and learning to see the world from a different perspective. It sounds romantic, but it’s not an easy process at all.”

Courtesy of press kit:

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 by 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 10 most important Colombian films.

All of Guerra’s feature films to date have been chosen to represent Colombia in the Academy Awards®.


  • Waiting for the Barbarians (2019)
  • Birds of Passage (2018)
  • Embrace of the Serpent (2015)
  • The Wind Journeys (2009)
  • Wandering Shadows (2004)

Here is a curated selection of links shared on our Facebook page for additional insight/information:

  • 8/11/19 – “What Ciro Guerra has thus accomplished with Embrace of the Serpent is not only a creative re-contextualization that redresses the shameful practices of a national history, but also a mode of storytelling that communicates in compelling, humanistic terms.” Michael Guillén, Cineaste – link

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