This latest instalment of the programme Intervalos (Intervals), devoted to recent experimental and auteur cinema without distribution or release, features the first and last work by Colombian director Luis Ospina in a double bill attended by the film-maker. This Interval is a coda to the retrospective on the artist held in the Museo in 2015, dovetailing a number of the themes explored in the Intervalos programme. The history of Grupo de Cali, the Cali Group, a Colombian avant-garde art and film collective made up of Ospina, writer Andrés Caicedo, film-maker Carlos Mayolo, and artists Ever Astudillo, Fernell Franco and Oscar Muñoz, among others, is explored in the film Todo comenzó por el fin (It All Started at the End, 2015).
The feature-length film paints a self-portrait of Grupo de Cali, also known as “Caliwood”, a group of film buffs who, in the midst of the rumba and chaos of the 1970s and 1980s, managed to produce a corpus of films which would become a key component in the history of cinema. Grupo de Cali parodied the West’s art canon, using cultural reception from underdevelopment to disassemble, reassemble and appropriate the international avant-garde. The kino-eye of Soviet film-maker Dziga Vertov materialised in the shape of the critical magazine Ojo al cine, cinéma vérité became the privileged style of the North to represent the misery of the South through gratification, and Italian neo-realism was masked in films of Caribbean vampires, where exploitation intermingled with violence, sarcasm and an insatiable urge to enjoy life. In a similar vein, Todo comenzó por el fin (It All Started from the End) is the clinical story of the film-maker, who became seriously ill while making the film, thus regarding it as an intellectual and personal biography.
Premiered in this double bill, Acto de fe (1970) is a short film which adapts Jean-Paul Sartre’s short story Erostratus, narrating how a man on the verge of despair decides to buy a gun and go out to kill at random. Shot in LA, this was Ospina’s first project at the UCLA Film School, and for which he was awarded First Prize at Bogotá’s Super 8 Film Festival in 1977. The film, as in all Ospina’s subsequent work, melds cult references (“The simplest Surrealist act consists of dashing down the street, pistol in hand, and firing blindly, as fast as you can pull the trigger, into the crowd,” wrote André Breton) with more mainstream ones, for example Taxi Driver.
Luis Ospina (Santiago de Cali, Colombia, 1949) is a director, producer and film critic. His artistic career is defined by a defence of creative, formal and political freedom, and an irreverent sense of humour towards film, its institutions and the political conditions it is produced within. Ospina studied at the University of South California and formed part of Grupo de Cali with Andrés Caicedo, Carlos Mayolo and Ramiro Arbeláez. His work gave rise to the expression “Caliwood” to refer to the wealth of Cali cinema, and he coined the concept “porno-misery”, which surfaced as a critique of cinema within cinema and the abuse of conditions of underdevelopment and marginalisation in Latin American countries to grab the attention of foreign audiences. His films include Acto de fe (1971), Agarrando pueblo (1977), Pura sangre (1982), Soplo de vida (1999), Un tigre de papel (2007) and most recently Todo comenzó por el fin (2015). Moreover, his work has been shown at the Tate Gallery, the R. Guggenheim Museum, the Museo Reina Sofía, the Centro Georges Pompidou Centre and Documenta Kassel, among others. He is also the author of Palabras al viento, Mis sobras completas (2007), and since 2009 he has served as the artistic director of the Cali International Film Festival.