irected by Ciro Guerra
(Colombia, Argentina, Venezuela, 2015, 122 mins, DCP)

We are proud to present in partnership with the 34th Vancouver International Film Festival the film Embrace of the Serpent. Oct 01 21:00 pm SFU Woodwards, Oct 02 01:45 pm International Village #10, Oct 06 01:30 pm Vancouver Playhouse


In Ciro Guerra’s vibrant and wildly original feature, two explorers (Borgman’s Jan Bijvoet and Brionne Davis) embark on parallel journeys—albeit 40 years apart—down the Colombian Amazon. Both are in search of a sacred flower with mythical healing powers. Both encounter Karamakate (initially Nilbio Torres; then Antonio Bolívar), an Amazonian shaman who shares with them his tales of colonialism’s devastating toll on his people. As unlikely friendships take root, this drama cuts between timelines and enwraps viewers in seductive visuals and alluring ethnographic details.

Looking to the journals of German ethnologist Theodor Koch-Grunberg and American botanist Richard Evans Schultes for inspiration, Guerra also employs David Gallego’s black-and-white cinematography to lend an ethereal quality to this untamed place, thus replicating the astonishment its nearly indescribable beauty and splendour inspired in its first visitors. Of course, this jungle’s shadows also conceal dark histories and repressed memories. In turn, both of these men of science come to learn that research is no substitute for experience.

“A soulful, strange and stunning discovery… Embrace of the Serpent is simply a work of art, and one of the most singular cinematic experiences you could hope to have… It’s an absorbing, even thrilling head trip. It is a Heart of Darkness voyage of discovery. It is a lament for all the lost plants and peoples of the world.”—Jessica Kiang, Indiewire.