Let's talk Latin America

Film focus: Chocó

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Jhonny Hendrix Hinestroza’s 2012 debut is a beautiful and fascinating insight into Colombia’s biggest Afro-Latino community. Sophie Wall 

As with many Latin American countries, Colombia’s black population is unrepresented both in politics and in the mainstream media. This is despite the fact that Afro-Colombians constitute over 10% of the country’s people; in fact, Colombia is considered to have the fourth largest Black/African-descent population in the western hemisphere, only following Haiti, Brazil and the USA.

The majority of Afro-Colombians are based in the northwest Caribbean coast and the Pacific coast, in such departments as Chocó, where 82% of residents are of African descent. It is here that Colombian director Jhonny Hendrix Hinestroza based his directorial debut, which follows the day-to-day of eponymous protagonist Chocó, a maltreated wife and young mother of two.

Hendrix, who was born and raised in Chocó, was keen to portray the struggles faced by the women in his native region. What is more, the mistreatment of Chocó’s character draws direct comparison with the ravaging of the land on the part of Multinationals in this part of Colombia. In Hendrix’s own words:

[the film] is enormously nostalgic, not just for the land but for what it was, for what I enjoyed and my children obviously will not, land which is so abundant, so full of fruits, of nature and of jungle vegetation, and how now, in one way or another, it is being destroyed by mining. 

Hendrix adds that this loss extends to the culture of Chocó, describing his film as a snapshot, a visualisation, of a widely undocumented way of life. The result is an unprecendented cinematic exploration of the intersection between gender, race and national capital interest in Colombia.

Unfortunately, Chocó is hard to source on DVD. For the moment, check out the stunning trailer and fantastic footage from behind the scenes.