Mudos Testigos, the posthumous picture by Colombian filmmaker Luis Ospina, jointly produced and completed by Jerónimo Atehortúa, will be the opening film of the 30th edition of the Valdivia International Film Festival.
Film director Luis Ospina passed away a couple of weeks before the 25th FICValdivia, and on the opening day of that year’s festival, a tribute was paid to an author who was a fundamental renovator for Latin American cinema. Ospina was a recurrent festival attendee, a great conversationalist, and a man of endless generosity, whose departure seemed to leave he the path vigorously initiated in the early 70s -when he created the Cali Group, together with Carlos Mayolo and Andrés Caicedo- in suspension, at process that, in a way, began to rewrite the history of filmmaking in his country.
At the time of his death, Ospina was working on a project that, like much of his work, also fused fiction and documentary: a love story told from fragments of images from Colombian films of the 1920s that would end up being called Mudos Testigos (Mute Witnesses).
The director knew he would never see his film finished, so he involved the critic, essayist, and filmmaker Jerónimo Atehortúa from the beginning of its laborious preparation. With him, Ospina was able to prepare a five-minute teaser and a script that, at the time of his passing, was little more than an outline to follow, giving the account of an impossible love that gradually moved away from melodrama, alighting definitively in experimental cinema. That was the line Atehortúa took and deepened to conclude the movie, after the director’s demise.
The film is structured in three parts, with the relevant presence of Mara Meba and Roberto Estrada Vergara, stars of the silent period, whose works Aura o las Violetas (1924), El Amor, el Deber y el Crimen (1926), Como los Muertos (1925), María (1926), and Manizales City (1925), among others, were rescued as the basis for the construction of this experimental melodrama.
Ospina and Atehortúa chose not to restore the pieces of the selected films, but to openly show their deterioration, as evidence of the time elapsed and, especially, of the work with archival footage. It is a sort of nod that concludes the work of the director of Un Tigre de Papel and Agarrando Pueblo, a way to extend the latency of his immense aura, and to surprisingly offer new images, when everything was already thought to be lost.
- Mudos Testigos, Luis Ospina & Jerónimo Atehortúa.
Colombia, France. 2023. 79 minutes.