Cinema Scope

Impresión de un cineasta

The title of Camilo Restrepo’s breakout short film, Impressions of a War (2015), suggests the anomalies inherent in conceiving of a historical portrait of modern Colombia. A war is not typically thought of as something that leaves an impression; rather, it maims, disables, obliterates, defaces, violates. Nor does its legacy register as a mere impression: the cumulative trauma amounts to nothing less than an indelible scar, both corporeal and psychological, that exceeds reason, conciliation, and memory.

What, though, can one make of a war without end? A war among various factions whose ideologies can no longer be morally or politically inferred? A war in which an entire country, according to the film’s opening slate, has been turned into a battlefield, and a sense of generalized violence has gradually yet insidiously settled over the whole of society? Colombia’s history of violence is so fraught as to resist any summative representation or cogent insight, perhaps especially from the distance of a self-imposed exile. Born under the shadow of FARC and the Medellín cartel, Restrepo—a trained painter and staunchly independent filmmaker now working in France—found traces of war in the minutiae of quotidian life. In this context, the question was reframed: Where  war? Taking the notion of impression as a tactile index of war’s legacy, Restrepo filmed what he could see, the

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