Archive of films Embrace of the Serpent / El abrazo de la serpiente

Colombia / Venezuela / Argentina
2015, 122 min

Section: Another View
Year: 2015

Over the course of forty years, Amazonian shaman Karamakate, the last survivor of his tribe, has been visited by two Western scientists who are trying to discover the secret of the miraculous and sacred yakruna plant. This remarkable black-and-white film follows the shaman as he joins them on a life-changing transcendental journey through the Amazon rainforest.


This silver screen epic tells the story of the encounters that occurred over a period of forty years between Amazonian shaman Karamakate, who lives in complete isolation as the last survivor of his tribe, and two Western scientists. Together they set out on a journey into the heart of the Amazon rainforest in search of the yakruna plant, a mysterious hallucinogen capable of teaching man to dream and to heal. The three men embark upon an odyssey that will lead to new knowledge, betrayal and also life-changing transcendental experiences. For his remarkable film, which takes the viewer deep into the heart of the jungle and the human subconscious, the internationally acclaimed Colombian director opted for black-and-white stylisation and meditative lensing, thereby heightening the spiritual dimension of the work. Inspired by the journals of German ethnologist Theodor Koch-Grunberg and American botanist Richard Evans Schultes, the film won an award in the Directors’ Fortnight at this year’s Cannes IFF.

Ivana Novotná

About the director

Ciro Guerra

Ciro Guerra (b. 1981, Río de Oro, Colombia) studied film and television at the National University of Colombia. He made several award-winning shorts and, aged 21, debuted with the feature film The Wandering Shadows (La sombra del caminante, 2004), which won an award at the San Sebastián IFF. He followed this up with The Wind Journeys (Los viajes del viento), which was premiered at Cannes in 2009 in the Directors’ Fortnight section. Both films were subsequently screened at numerous IFFs (including Cannes, Toronto, Rotterdam, Tribeca and Locarno), winning 40 international awards; they were also chosen as Colombia’s Academy Award submissions and have been distributed in twenty countries. The Wind Journeys was selected by critics as one of the top ten most important works in Colombian film history. Embrace of the Serpent is the director’s third film.


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About the film

Color, DCP

Section: Another View
Director: Ciro Guerra
Screenplay: Ciro Guerra, Jacques Toulemonde
Dir. of Photography: David Gallego
Music: Nascuy Linares
Editor: Etienne Boussac, Cristina Gallego
Art Director: Ramsés Benjumea
Producer: Cristina Gallego
Production: Ciudad Lunar
Coproduction: Nortesur Producciones, Mc Producciones, Buffalo Films
Cast: Nilbio Torres, Antonio Bolívar, Yauenkü Miguee, Jan Bijvoet, Brionne Davis
Sales: Films Boutique


Ciro Guerra

Valeska Neu

Sales Agent

Mateo Contreras

Still Photographer


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