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BAJO FUEGO won the best documentary at the International Human Rights Film Festival

Updated: Aug 11

by Andrés Pereáñez

Posted on Dec 09, 2020

In the seventh edition of the Human Rights Film Festival, in the national documentary feature film category, “Bajo Fuego” won the award for best documentary, after a unanimous decision by the jury.

A story that narrates the peace intentions of the peasants in the department of Cauca, after the signing of the Peace Agreement and the connection to the illicit crop substitution program, shows the difficulties that peasants have when living in a context in which war still predominates. “Bajo Fuego”, directed by Irene Vélez and Sjoerd Van Grootheest, is a testimony of how the communities face a crossroads in which the government delays in fulfilling what it promised, the family economy is in crisis due to the substitution of coca , the State represses the mobilization and people receive death threats from new armed actors.


The audiovisual piece, by unanimous decision, was recognized as the best documentary. In the words of the jury: “this presents the tenacity, the conviction and the firm will of the leaders to continue fighting for their rights, despite the threats to their lives, the non-compliance of the government and the uncertainty generated by the armed groups that They try to seize the land. We consider it an urgent film that helps to understand the desperate situation of social leaders in rural areas of Colombia ”.

The documentary narrates the illusions of Briceida and Leider, a peasant couple who see hope in the signing of the Peace Agreement, but who after a year do not see any guarantee against the fulfillment of what was agreed. For its part, Wildermar's story is that of a young coordinator of the Campesino Guard. He seeks to strengthen territorial control and facilitate the access of peasants to a Hacienda of landowners in the area. However, the threats he received from armed groups, as well as the murder of one of his friends from the guard, led him to abandon his role. Finally, Gustavo, leader of the peasant social organization, is the spokesperson for the experience of living a kidnapping and for considering exile as the only alternative to survive.


In the words of Irene Vélez, for El País, from Cali, “the documentary was filmed over three years in the municipalities of Corinto and Miranda. We were there for three years accompanying four peasant families, four narrative nuclei, which allowed us to approach a curve of great illusion. Then came the wait, accompanied by the frustrations that the process brought with it, and the resurgence of violence in the territory. Added to this is what Vélez told Verdad Abierta, when asked about the expectations he has with the documentary: “For us it is very important that it has visibility here in the country, that it allows this difficult issue for the communities to be spoken, dialogued, be put on another level of public opinion. That is our first goal. And then we want to take a tour of different international festivals, especially those related to human rights ”.

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