Director: Carlos César Arbeláez
Starring: Hernán Mauricio Ocampo, Nolberto Sánchez, Genaro Aristizábal, Hernán Méndez
Duration: 90 min.
While the adults in their lives try to avoid both the armed military and the guerrilla rebels fighting each other in the area, Manuel and his friend Julian play soccer any chance they get. When their new soccer ball gets kicked onto a minefield, Manuel, Julian and their albino friend Poca Luz do everything in their power to recover their prized belonging, an essential part of their everyday lives and dreams.
The Colors of the Mountain is the directorial debut from Colombian filmmaker Carlos César Arbeláez. It premiered at the 2010 San Sebastian Film Festival where Arbeláez received the Best New Director award, and it is Columbia's official submission to the 84th Academy Awards for Best Foriegn Language Film.
Another Spanish language film that explores the end of innocence by lensing war through the eyes of young children, Arbeláez does so in a subtle, much less manipulative manner than Spain's Pa Negre. Focusing on Manuel (Hernán Maruicio Ocampo) and his best friend Julian (Nolberto Sánchez), two boys with the seemingly carefree lives of children; they go to school, grudgingly do their chores, and sneak off to play soccer with every spare moment, oblivious to the civil war between guerrilla fighters and government paramilitaries in the region. Their comfortable routine is suddenly halted when Manuel's new soccer ball lands in a field that they discover is littered with mines.
The tension slowly ratchets up as we begin to see more and more evidence of the war beginning to affect their lives, and how close the danger really is. The classroom gets smaller and smaller as the families of their classmates begin to pack up and leave the village. Helicopters fly overhead in the middle of the night, and armed men use the school grounds for clandestine meetings. But all the boys really care about is retrieving their soccer ball.
This succeeds because Arbeláez stays true throughout, never resorting to cheap over sentimental drama, and he wisely keeps the most terrible events off screen, taking away the innocence from these children without outright scarring them or the audience for that matter. Which gives the final images when they arrive, a powerful and lasting impact. I'm not sure if this is enough to get an Oscar nomination, but it is a solid debut from Arbeláez, and hopefully only the first of many to come.
— Bonjour Tristesse