BETWEEN FIRE AND WATER
COLOMBIA 92 MIN, 2020
Camilo is the adopted son of an indigenous couple of the Quillasinga tribe in the southwest of Colombia. He is the only black person in his community and has always felt different. For years he has been wondering who his biological parents are. He left school due to racism and bullying. The indigenous governor took him under his wing and gave him Ayahuasca, a sacred remedy for spiritual guidance. During this transcendent experience Camilo has visions of his biological mother.
After this experience he decides to embark on a journey in search of his origins. The indigenous authorities and everyone in Camilo’s family support his decision. With the help of his father and the indigenous spirituality Camilo feels strengthened and starts to change. He even travels to where his mother was originally from: Tumaco, a city on the Pacific Ocean inhabited predominantly by Afro-Colombians. For the first time in his life Camilo discovers his afro heritage and meets the black community.
VIVIANA GÓMEZ ECHEVERRY
Colombian director and cinematographer. Studied Social Communication at the Javeriana University in Bogota, where she is professor. In Spain specialized herself in cinematography and she did a master’s degree in Scriptwriting. She wrote and directed two short films EXOTIC TROPICAL and 16TH BIRTHDAY and co-directed and made the camera in the Andreas Dalsgaard’s documentary LIFE IS SACRED, premiered in Copenhagen Docs, produced by the two-time Oscar-Nominated production company Final Cut for Real. Her first feature film is KEYLA (2017), which was selected in Competition in Warsaw Film Festival, Curacao International Film Festival Rotterdam, Sao Paulo Latin-American Film Festival, Ficci, etc. Viviana also worked as D.P in several documentaries like THE ETERNAL NIGHT OF TWELVE MOONS, selected in Berlin Film Festival – Generation, and in NEONATAL, selected in Chicago International Film Festival.
German director and editor. He studied film direction in Madrid, Spain and communication design in Stuttgart, Germany. Currently he is based in Cologne, Germany and Bogota, Colombia. His filmography as director and screenwriter includes short films like The Farewell Of Juan And Juan (fiction, 2018), Ghillie And The Nothing: About Identity (fiction, 2014), The Children Of Chinandega (Documentary, 2013) and TO BE. TO DO. TO FIND (fiction, 2012), as editor films like the midlength narrative films NIRWANA BLOSSOM (2016), KALIFORNIA (2012) and documentary KIBERA (2009). Also he has edited for advertisement and Colombian television. His work has been screened at festivals around the globe e.g. the Berlin International Film Festival (Berlinale), the Hamburg International Short Film Festival and the Barranquilla International Film Festival.
BETWEEN FIRE AND WATER is a reflection about identity through the main character’s search: Camilo has Afro-DNA but was raised as indigenous since he was a baby. This is explored and portrayed through the relationship between Camilo and his indigenous father, who supports and loves him unconditionally, even if his son’s search for his origins and his «true» family hurts him. The conflict between the two identities of Camilo of being of African descent and being indigenous is historically evident in Colombian society. Since the colonial age the Spaniards encouraged a rivalry between black and indigenous since it was an efficient way of domination. Due to that heritage, Camilo has experienced strong racism in the indigenous world and his black seed has been repressed. But over the years that feeling has become a deep pain, crying out and manifesting in Camilo’s need to know who he really is. In the struggle of finding his origin Camilo explores the two cultural universes that coexist in him. He must learn to accept his dual identity of being afro and indigenous at the same time.
Since I started working on this project, I have met people of different nationalities, who are in a situation similar to Camilo’s. Adoption is increasingly common and crosses borders; there are Latino children living in Canada and the USA, African children growing up in Europe, etc. Despite having a caring adoptive family, they may never lose the feeling of being incomplete for not knowing such a vital part of their cultural heritage. The global phenomenon of human displacement brings similar feelings to many people on this planet. This documentary seeks answers to existential questions like «Where am I from? Where do I belong?» and «Who am I?»
The story takes place in the Cocha Lagoon in southern Colombia. It is the territory of the Quillasinga people. This indigenous tribe lives connected to mother earth. They are fishermen, farmers and defend their territory and natural resources against external interests. Besides the intimate observations of Camilo, there is another existential search that unfolds in parallel. After a long history of violence, displacement and extermination, twenty years ago Camilo’s tribe started a process of returning to their territory, regaining their history and memory. This is being achieved through dialogue, with the help of their spirituality and their sacred plant medicine, the Ayahuasca. During the Ayahuasca ceremony they visualize how to organize as a community, how to defend their territory and how to regain their ancestral culture and identity.
Finally, this is a story with a coming-of-age arch. Camilo grows every time he learns more shocking details about his biological mother’s past and his own history. He becomes aggressive towards his adoptive parents, his community and even towards himself. Through life teachings, spirituality and the love of his father he slowly learns how to cope with his problems and realizes that his adoption, his family and community are gifts from life. Now he can start healing his spirit.
- IDFA / Netherlands
- Cine Latino Toulouse / France
- Hot Docs / Canada
- DOK.Fest Munich / Germany
DOKer 2021 — Main Competition