- Representing Realities: The Role of Documentary in It all Started at the End (2015) by Luis Ospina
Documentaries, then, do not differ from fictions in their constructedness as texts, but in the representations they make. At the heart of documentary is less a story and its imaginary world than an argument about the historical world.Bill Nichols, Representing Reality (1991)
It all started in 1971, according to Luis Ospina and his entourage—a film renaissance that flowed through Cali changing the very essence of the city, its people and the way that cinema was produced in Colombia. It is from this period that the main characters from It All Started at the End (2015) emerged: Andrés Caicedo, Carlos Mayolo, and of course, Luis Ospina, the director. These three visionaries were the protagonists of an entire generation obsessed by cinema in the city of Cali, Colombia. This group of self-identified cinephiles are responsible for the creation and production of a collection of cinematographic works which have come to be considered a fundamental component of Colombia’s film catalogue. Victims of the so-called mal de cinesífilis, they managed to build a network that fashioned the foundation for cinema in Colombia. Between 1971 and 1991, a number of young people from Cali joined the three originators to grow a strong audiovisual tradition in an unfocused country—a country that at the time was being torn apart by violence, death, and drugs. This documentary film is a collaborative effort (much like many of the films that were produced by the Grupo de Cali coalition) to tell the story of the Grupo de Cali from those who remain.
At first glance, this feature appears to be a memoir of the work and life of Ospina, who at the time of the production of this film was struggling with a serious form of cancer. However, this documentary goes far beyond this initial evaluation to uncover the story of the origins of the cinema movement that transformed Cali. Despite the war, violence, and drugs that were prevalent during this time period, Cali grew into a film Mecca, and the Group of Cali came to be known as Caliwood. This documentary is also a narrative [End Page 132] that pays homage to the living and fallen members of Caliwood. The film successfully transports its audience through time and space to deliver an insider view of what inspired this film in particular, and also the events that transpired throughout the 20-year period that this film seeks to represent.
This brief analysis will attempt to explore the documentary techniques used within the film, through the perspective of critics like that of Bill Nichols in Representing Reality (1991). Additionally, due to the structure of the film, this analysis will seek to identify the use and significance of cinematographic devices like intermediality, transmediality, reflexivity, and intertextuality, beginning with “To Make You See: Photography as Intermedial Resource in Theatre and Film Adaptation” by Carmen Pérez Riu. These approaches will aid in the identification of the narrative aspect of the film, as well as the semiotic symbols transmitted through photographs and other transmedial and intermedial visual elements that complement the diegesis of the documentary. It is also pertinent to this study to highlight the significant role that Luis Ospina has played in the development of Colombian cinema, which is supported by his nomination to the Toda una vida de cine award. Presented by Macondo Awards1 in 2010, the award honored his lifetime of contributions to the development and the creation of meaningful works that represent Colombia’s reality through his own lens.
Colombian documentary cinema, like any national cinema, is a historical process with an industrial and artistic dimension. The expression “Cinema of Colombia” or “Colombian Cinema” refers, in a broad sense, to the cinematographic productions made in Colombia or considered Colombian for other reasons. The history of cinema in Colombia began in 1897 when the arrival of the cinema to the country was first recorded. Only two years before, the Lumière Brothers’ apparatus2 had made its legendary public appearance in Paris, and the invention caused euphoria around the world. As a result...