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Recollections of Maria Catalina Prieto from the U.S. Embassy in Bogota

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Director Andrew MacLean (On the Ice) poses with a group of young coffee entrepreneurs. Photo by Jennifer Prediger.

Maria Catalina Prieto, U.S. Embassy, Bogota

After a week of intense work the Film Forward 2012 team returned home. This program, an initiative of Sundance Institute, is to stimulate cultural dialogue through the independent film.

For seven days the director of the film On the Ice, Andrew McLean Okpeaha, and the producer of the documentary Buck, Sofia Santana, participated in discussions held with various segments of the population of Bogota, Cali, and Manizales. Building on the themes that could be derived from each of the films, these U.S. filmmakers were able to share their experiences with university students in Cali and Manizales; young entrepreneurs of the Commune 13 in Cali and Ciudad Bolivar in Bogotá; young coffee growers in Neira, Caldas; children and adults with disabilities in Guatavita and film industry professionals.

For most of the attendees it was a great surprise to see that despite the geographical distance that exists between the Colombian cities and Barrow, Alaska, there are common features in the internal conflicts among youth in today’s society. For them it was awesome to identify with those boys dressed as Eskimos living in such a different environment than their own.

The program planted many concerns in our young people and even spurred some of them into action. After seeing Buck and realizing the seriousness of abused horses, a boy of 16 years decided to start a campaign against animal abuse in Manizales. In response to the young coffee entrepreneurs who viewed the screening, the committee of coffee growers in Caldas has decided to organize, in collaboration with the Centro Colombo Americano in Manizales, a series of screenings of independent and commercial films for the population of Neira and surrounding municipalities.

Overall, it was an unforgettable experience for everyone involved.

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