From the makers of Embrace of the Serpent, Birds of Passage (Pájaros de verano) again explores the mysticism, folklore and culture of Colombian tribes, but this time spanning the 1960s and 1970s. It’s also a bit of a crime family saga in the unusual setting of the Colombian desert.
When Rapayet wishes to marry Zaida, the village elders and her family determine the dowry, which he must provide before the ceremony can take place. His efforts to make the money to do so bring him and his friend into contact with various individuals and organisations who are not necessarily operating a legal business. It turns out to be an extremely lucrative opportunity and Rapayet (and the village) become wealthy as a result – but it brings danger, in-fighting and huge change to the community.
The larger story is more often than not told from an American or European perspective, and so what’s fascinating here is how events affect the rural Colombian community, and how the violence haunts some more than others. Once the violence and retributions start, things can only get worse, and it’s clear that no-one is going to come out of this well.
The meeting point between indigenous culture and capitalism provides some salient moments, but the storyline is somewhat predictable once it gets going.
It is beautifully shot though, and the performance highlight is Carmiña Martínez as matriarch Úrsula, whose ire I would not want to provoke at any cost.