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TIFF 2018 Review: “Birds of Passage” (2018) ★★★★★


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What does money bring? Power, or the much needed support to satisfy all the needs we have? Does it really corrupt our mind, soul and compromise our choices, forcing us to leave our dignity behind? All these can be well interpreted in so many ways, if you wish. But there was one which was the most correct one, translated onto “Birds of Passage” from Cristina Gallego and Ciro Guerra (Embrace of the Serpent).

“Birds of Passage” is a true story which was inspired by true events that took place in the Guajira region (Northern Colombia) between the decades of 1960 and 1980. It follows the small tribe called Wayuu, their ups and mainly downs, when one small decision to sell weed, aka, marijuana turns into bloodshed, revenge and death of everyone who was directly or indirectly involved in it.

Look at me, Zaida.”, the matriarch of the family, Ursula, says to her daughter before her “coming out” ceremony, “You have fulfilled your year in confinement with dignity and grace. When you go out, you’ll be a woman. You must be aware of the signs. Use them to protect your family.” What happens next is what defines the tribe, their humble living, rules they would follow and the respect that was one of the most sacred thing they would not dare disregard. Raphayet (José Acosta) meets Zaida the first time and could not resist her natural beauty and charm. He immediately after invites her for the Yonna dance. As soon as he showcases his talent, he tells her, “You are my woman.”. Good or not, he won’t change his mind, and probably he should have, I guess.

That said, this is why Ernest Hemingway was right in saying that, “Today is only one day in all the days that will ever be. But what will happen in all the other days that ever come can depend on what you do today”, which is exactly what Raphayet did at the café when he agrees to sell marijuana, so he can get enough funding for dowry. That decision was a tough one to make but will he be able to learn from it is something you must learn by watching it.

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