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Tuesday, Oct. 3, Zenith Cinema, 5:30 p.m.
(REPEAT) Saturday, Oct. 7, Postmodernissimo Cinema, 3:00 p.m.

Film details

Original title:Mudos Testigos

Direction:Jerónimo Atehortúa Arteaga e Luis Ospina

Screenplay:Luis Ospina / Jerónimo Atehortúa / Juan Mora

Editing:Juan Mora / Federico Atehortúa

Sound:Mercedes Gaviria / Diana Martínez / José Gaviria

Music: Carlos Quebrada

Columbian productors: Jerónimo Atehortúa / Juan Mora / Lina González

French productors: Eva Chillón


Silent Witnesses is an imaginary journey through the history of Colombia (and its cinema) during the convulsive first half of the 20th century, using solely the surviving footage of Colombian silent cinema. This melodrama shows the impossible love story between Efraín and Alicia as it runs through the political turmoil of the first decades of the 20th century in Colombia. What begins with Efraín falling in love with Alicia, a woman engaged to marry Uribe, a powerful and vengeful strongman, quickly develops into a revealing journey into the heart of the jungle, where Efraín will witness the humiliating conditions of the peasants in the south of the country and the birth of an armed rebellion. This is the posthumous work of Luis Ospina, one of the most influential filmmakers in the Latin American documentary tradition, as well as the first film of producer and film critic Jerónimo Atehortua.

Director's notes

In Colombia, only 12 feature silent films were made. Of those, 2 are fully preserved, 2 are lost and only fragments remain from the rest. Documentary silent films are far more scattered and it is hard to pin down the exact number. All in all, about 4 hours of documentary footage is preserved. Silent Witnesses is solely made with these images. This is a work with and about memory, which is at the same time a work with and about the future: a Utopian work. Archives are kept with the hope of surviving the present of their original creation in order to reappear in the future. They are time machines that not only document a past time, but also project the past into the future, liberating its hidden forces. Archive materials are normally seen as fruit of their time. Their common use constraints them to their time of creation. The ultimate purpose of Silent Witnesses is to work with the images of the past in order to liberate the utopian spirit that is dormant in them. The free use of the footage will charge it with new energies and emotions.

Jerónimo Atehortúa Arteaga e Luis Ospina

Luis Ospina
Cali, Colombia. Luis Ospina studied film at UCLA and became one of the founding fathers of the Cali Group (Grupo de Cali), alongside Carlos Mayolo and Andrés Caicedo. From 2007 until his death in 2019, he was the Artistic Director of the Cali International Film Festival.

Jerónimo Atehortúa
Medellin, Colombia. Jerónimo Atehortúa studied film at the Universidad del Cine in Argentina, and Bela Tarr’s film factory MFA in Bosnia.In 2020, he published the book Los cines por venir. He is a founding partner of Invasión Cine.


Luis Ospina
1982 Pura sangre
1999 Soplo de vida
1993 Nuestra película
2003 La desazón suprem
2007 Un tigre de papel
2015 All Started at the End

Jerónimo Atehortúa
2011 Dean Funes 841
2015 Becerra
2017 The Forest Passage
2018 Rekonstrukcja
2019 Mute Fire
2020 The Calm after the Storm

Awards and Festivals

Selección Oficial, Festival Internacional de Cine de Róterdam, Países Bajos
IFFR Festival Internacional de Cine de Rotterdam
Festival Internacional de Cine Unam – Messico

Selección Oficial, Festival de Cine de Marsella, Francia

Jerónimo Atehortúa Arteaga e Luis Ospina