The Cartagena Film Festival (Cartagena Film Festival 2018) or Festival Internacional de Cine de Cartagena de Indias as it is known is Spanish is Columbia’s biggest film festival. It is held every year in March in the city of Cartagena, Colombia, and aims to promote Colombian films and TV as well as Latin American short and feature films.

Aside from being one of the biggest film festivals held in Latin America the Cartagena Film Festival is also the oldest. It was started way back in 1959 by film lover Victor Neito. Such was Neito’s commitment to promoting and celebrating TV and film in his country that he remained director of the festival for a staggering 48 years.

Sadly, Victor Nieto would die in November of 2008 at the age of 92. Amazingly, he had actually directed the 2008 Cartagena Film Festival that took place only 9 months before his death. Victor Nieto place as festival director would be filled by Lina Paola Rodriguez who had been the festival manager under Nieto’s reign.

As the longest-running film festival in Latin America, the Cartagena Film Festival has a lot of prestige attached to it. Every year filmmakers from all over South America submit their films in hope that they will be accepted into the festival.

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The Cartagena Film Festival today

Over the years, the event has grown to such proportions that the 2016 festival was opened by Colombian President, Juan Manuel Santos Calderón. The President noted that he was doing his best to help promote film production in the country by supporting new laws like the Cinema Law. These go hand in hand with the efforts of the festival and have already seen extremely positive results.

That year’s event was the biggest and most glamorous in the festival’s history. It would be the 56th edition of the Cartagena Film Festival which would show 154 films from a total of 39 different countries. The event’s nomination, Embrace of the Serpent (El Abrazo de la Serpiente), would be accepted for entry for the Best Foreign Language Film at the 88th Academy Awards. Despite not winning the Oscar, the film would triumph at the Cannes Film Festival, Sundance Film Festival, and the Munich Film Festival, along with many others.

The 2016 event also included screenings of short films from around the world. That year the festival chose to screen numerous short films from the California Institute of the Arts in the USA. It would also celebrate the work of two important international filmmakers, Philippine Brillante Mendoza, and Caleño Luis Ospinone.

Other events included midnight screenings, a gala tribute to American actress Susan Sarandon, a tribute to the Columbian Caliwood film movement, and retrospectives celebrating the work of Gaspar Noé and Sharunas Bartas.

Today the Cartagena Film Festival is the continents premiere showcase of the bestthat Columbian and Latin American film has to offer. The festival pass costs around $50 and allows access to film screenings and some of the support events. Due to the increasing popularity of the event, many of the support events get full quickly, so it is advisable to get there ahead of the crowds or wherever possible, book ahead of time.

For more information regarding past nominees and winners of the Cartagena Film Festival, click this link.

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The Cartagena Film Festival has six main award categories in which films can enter. Only a certain number of films can be nominated for each award. The exact number varies according to the award though it is usually between 10 and 20 films.

Here are the six main categories of awards:

  • The Official Dramatic Competition (10 films)
  • The Official Documentary Competition (10 films)
  • The Official Colombian Cinema Competition (10 films)
  • The Official Short Film Competition (20 films)
  • The New Talents Section (14 films students only)
  • The Gemas Section (11 films that are premiering in Colombia and have already won awards at other international film festivals).

How to enter

Being such a prestigious festival, naturally, competition is fierce to get films accepted. While entry for this year’s festival is now closed, filmmakers can still submit their movies for the 2019 event.

You can submit your work by visiting the official Cartagena Film Festival website and following their instructions. Click this link to be redirected to their website.

Take special care to read all their terms and conditions because if guidelines are not met your film may well be rejected. Here are some important points that must be followed:

  • Only films that have not already been premiered in Colombia will be accepted
  • Films must be in 35mm, Blu Ray, DCP or HDCAM format
  • Only films made during the previous year will be accepted
  • All Colombian feature films must register through the “Colombian Cinema Official Competition” section.
  • Non-Spanish-speaking films must be subtitled or submitted with a breakdown of dialogue in both Spanish and English.
  • Spanish-speaking films must have English subtitles or be submitted with a breakdown of dialogue in English.

The Cartagena Film Festival or Festival Internacional de Cine de Cartagena de Indias (FICCI) will be held from 28th February until 5th March 2018.

For more information on the event and its screenings, please visit their website via this link.

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