Monday, April 27, 2009

Artists Explores The Sounds Of Colombia

Fonseca, the Latin Grammy-winning Colombian artist, in concert at the Fillmore at Irving Plaza, where he performed cuts from his recent albums “Gratitud” and “Corazón.”

Fonseca proclaims, “Long live the music of my country!” in “Gratitud,” the title track of his 2008 album, and he means it. His country is Colombia, as affirmed by audience members waving flags and wearing Colombian straw hats at the packed Fillmore at Irving Plaza on Friday night, not to mention the Colombia tourism videos shown before and after his set. The music of his country that Fonseca stays grounded in is vallenato, the button-accordion-pumped style that arose on the Caribbean north coast.

Fonseca (whose full name is Juan Fernando Fonseca) won Latin Grammy awards for his 2005 album, “Corazón” (“Heart”), and its hit single “Te Mando Flores” (“I Send You Flowers”). He clearly has his eye on a wider audience. His New York concert was part of an extensive United States tour.

He’s not a preservationist clinging to a venerable form. Fonseca leads a modern Latin band, with synthesizer and electric guitars. His songs are pop tunes, with singalong hooks, climbing melodies and lyrics about love. He sounds well aware of fellow reedy-voiced pop songwriters like Sting and, from the Dominican Republic, Juan Luís Guerra; his music can turn toward jazzy pop or Mr. Guerra’s pan-Caribbean lilt. If they were in English, songs like “San José” or “Paraíso” could easily be sung by George Michael.

Mostly, however, Fonseca is following through on the pop breakthrough of Carlos Vives, who merged vallenato with rock guitar and drums to make international hits in the 1990s. Fonseca performed a song Mr. Vives recorded, with an apt title: “El Cantor de Fonseca.” Even when Fonseca’s songs have the structure and sentiments of pop love songs, they flaunt the trappings of vallenato.

His band’s accordionist, Taty Manzano, gets far more solo time than the guitarists, often keeping up a call-and-response counterpoint with Fonseca’s vocals.

Fonseca plays the nice guy in his songs, with lyrics full of romantic yearning and kindly thoughts. “Arroyito” (“Little Creek”), his finale, declared, “You are the negative of the photo of my soul/You are the holy water that grows my crops,” to the clip-clop beat of a Colombian son, one of the basic rhythms of vallenato.

Fonseca can croon like a Latin pop singer, but he can also take up the quaver, yelp and near sob of traditional vallenato.

For the first part of the set, he showed his internationalist side, touching on pop and light rock. Then he headed decisively homeward, keeping the accordion up front and ratcheting up the tempo, culminating in an ecstatic “Lagartija Azul” (“Blue Lizard”). After the set ended, Fonseca returned and polled the crowd on what he should play for encores. Fans shouted the names of hits they had already heard, but he sang old vallenatos (from Diomedes Díaz) instead.

Friday, April 24, 2009

Colombian Cinema In Cannes 2009

PARIS -- First-time directors will be center stage at this year's 48th annual International Critics Week, where eight of nine announced competition titles will be up for the Camera d'Or.

The nine-day event will close with a double screening of Gregoire Colin's debut short "La baie de renard" followed by Colombian director Camilo Matiz's "1989," which stars Vincent Gallo in an English-language story, the only Colombian movie in the Critics Week lineup.

The multi-talented Vincent Gallo stars in Colombian film "1989."

Colombian feature "1989," directed by Camilo Matiz and starring Vincent Gallo, who apparently acted in the film on his days off from the shoot of Francis Ford Coppola's "Tetro" movie, will be presented on closing night at Cannes.

Interview, en espanol, with Colombian director Camilo Matíz on the making of his film "1989" starring Vincent Gallo.

Another Colombia feature at Cannes this year is “Los Viajes del Viento.” A story about a old troubadour who travels with his young apprentice across Colombia in a journey to return a cursed accordion back to his teacher. The film is about dreams, about learning, about artistic sacrifice, about looking for our place in this world. It touches upon matters that pertain to all human beings, but it does it from our perspective, from our experience, our culture, our wealth, things not very often displayed in cinematography," affirmed Colombian filmmaker Ciro Guerra.

"Los Viajes de Viento" by Colombian filmmaker Ciro Guerra

The last time Colombia competed in Cannes was 11 years ago with Víctor Gaviria's 'Rodrigo D: No Futuro' and 'La Vendedora de Rosas.'

"La Vendedora de Rosas"(1998) by Víctor Gaviria.
13-year-old Monica leads a street life, making her living by selling flowers to couples in local nightspots, she is joined by 10-year-old Andrea who runs out of her house in an effort to avoide her abusive mother.

Cannes' 48th Critics' Week will feature predominantly debuting films.
Latin American films continue a strong showing, with Chilean helmer Alejandro Fernandez Almendras' "Huacho" and Uruguayan director Alvaro Brechner's "Bad Day to Go Fishing" both included in the sidebar's seven-film competition.

"Rodrigo D: No Futoro"(1990) by Victor Gavaria
Rodrigo, a poor and troubled teenager in the barrios of Medellin, Colombia, struggles to find hope in a world ravaged by violence and chaos. An aspiring drummer in a punk band, he uses his music to try to drive the despair out of his thoughts.

"Latin American films are less present than in previous years," the fest's artistic director, Jean-Christophe Berjon, told Daily Variety. "But having Latino fare at Critics' Week continues to be an important tradition."

Back in Medellin, Colombia...

Juan Uribe shoots "El Azul del Cielo" on location in Medellin, which should wrap shooting on April 23.

Writer/director Juan Uribe makes his debut feature film in the barrios of Medellin in a story that will depart from many popular Colombian themes in an effort to showcase the transformation of Medellin, Colombia.

Saturday, April 18, 2009

Discover The Beauty Of Colombia

Good Times in Colombia.

Colombia lies at the crossroads of Latin America and the broader American continent, and as such has been marked by a wide range of cultural influences. Native American, Spanish and other European, African, American, Caribbean, and Middle Eastern influences, as well as other Latin American cultural influences, are all present in Colombia's modern culture. Urban migration, industrialization, globalization, and other political, social and economic changes have also left an impression.

Historically, the country's imposing landscape left its various regions largely isolated from one another, resulting in the development of very strong regional identities, in many cases stronger than the national. Modern transport links and means of communication have mitigated this and done much to foster a sense of nationhood, but social and political instability, and in particular fears of armed groups and bandits on intercity highways, have contributed to the maintenance of very clear regional differences. Accent, dress, music, food, politics and general attitude vary greatly between the Bogotanos and other residents of the central highlands, the paisas of Antioquia and the coffee region, the costeños of the Caribbean coast, the llaneros of the eastern plains, and the inhabitants of the Pacific coast and the vast Amazon region to the south east.

An inheritance from the colonial era, Colombia remains a deeply Roman Catholic country and maintains a large base of Catholic traditions which provide a point of unity for its multicultural society. Colombia has many celebrations and festivals throughout the year, and the majority are rooted in these Catholic religious traditions. However, many are also infused with a diverse range of other influences. Prominent examples of Colombia's festivals include the Barranquilla Carnival, the Carnival of Blacks and Whites, Medellín's Festival of the Flowers and Bogotá's Ibero-American Theater Festival

The mixing of various different ethnic traditions is reflected in Colombia's music and dance. The most well-known Colombian genres are cumbia and vallenato, the latter now strongly influenced by global pop culture. A powerful and unifying cultural medium in Colombia is television. Most famously, the telenovela Betty La Fea has gained international success through localized versions in the United States, Mexico, and elsewhere.

Unishow Motriz in Medellin: UniCentro

There will be over 64 various models on exibit during the Auto Show in Medellin.

The Auto Show is a great way for people see the latest models to some of the more popular cars in Colombia, including motorcycles, along with specialized auto parts for custom cars.

Centro Comercial Unicentro is one of the largest malls in Medellin.

Auto Show: Unishow Motriz
When April 16 - April 26
Location: Unicentro
Adress: Cra. 66B # 34A-76
Phone: 265 11 16
Zone: Belén

Unishow Motriz in Unicentro commerical center.

Friday, April 17, 2009

International Puppet Show Festival in Medellin: April 16 to May 3 – 2009

XVIII Festival Internacional de Títeres de La Fanfarria

El XVIII Festival Internacional de Títeres de La Fanfarria kicked off yesterday April 16 and will continue until March 3 throughout Medellin.

International groups participating include Guiñoleros from México; Yheppa, from Spain; Titiritaintas, from Ecuador; Teatro Colibrí, from Venezuela; and Colombia’s Artes Mágicas y La Fanfarria..

The events scheduled include 50 shows hosted by various groups.

In addition to the puppet festival in Medellin, there are many other events scheduled in Granada, El Carmen de Viboral, Girardota, Marinilla, Ciudad Bolívar and Don Matías.


For more information:

Tuesday, April 14, 2009

Colombian Poet Mario Rivero Passes Away

Colombian poet Mario Rivero

Colombian poet, art critic and editor Mario Rivero, known as the forerunner of the country’s urban poetry, died in Bogota, sources close to the poet said. He was 74.

Rivero, a native of Envigado near the northwestern city of Medellin, died from a heart attack Sunday at his home in the Colombian capital, where he lived for four decades.

The author burst onto the Colombian literary scene in 1966 with “Poemas Urbanas” (Urban Poems), a title covering the most ordinary everyday experiences he used to spark the country’s urban poetry trend that was just in its beginnings.

This volume of verse was followed by another 13 volumes, including two anthologies and a long interview, which Rivero published in the course of his literary career right up to his final work, “Balada de la Gran Señora” (Ballad of the Great Lady), in 2004.

Among a long list of titles, the poet published “Noticiario 67” (Newscast 67) in 1967, “Y Vivo Todavia” (And I’m Still Alive) in 1972, “Baladas sobre Ciertas Cosas que No Se Deben Nombrar” (Ballads about Certain Things that Shall Remain Nameless) in 1973, “Los Poemas del Invierno” (Poems of Winter) in 1984 and 1996, “Mis Asuntos” (My Affairs) in 1986, “Vuelvo a las Calles” (Back to the Streets) in 1989, “Del Amor y Su Huella” (On Love and the Marks It Leaves) in 1992, “Flor de Pensa” (Flower of Pensa) in 1998, together with the anthologies “Baladas” (Ballads) in 1980 and “Mis Asuntos” (My Affairs) in 1995, and the interview “Porque Soy Poeta” (Because I’m a Poet) in 2000.

As an editor, Rivero founded in 1972 the magazine Golpe de Dados, which he directed until his death.

Rivero created the magazine together with poets Aurelio Arturo, Fernando Charry Lara, Giovanni Quessep and Jaime Garcia, all from Colombia’s “disillusioned generation” of the 1970s that critics gave the name that they applied to the publication, Golpe de Dados, or Roll of the Dice.

In a biographical sketch of the author, the Casa de Poesia (House of Poetry) Silva, a cultural center in Bogota of which he was an assiduous collaborator, says that “before focusing on writing the works that would establish him as one of the most important poets of the later generations of the century in Colombia, (Rivero) tried many things and had multiple experiences.”

Rivero, adds the Casa Silva, was “a volunteer in the Korean War, a tango singer, theater actor, a book and artwork salesman; he lived his youth in constant movement, wandering through Central and South America with excursions to Europe as a seminary speaker and guide for artistic tours.” EFE

Saturday, April 11, 2009

Semana Santa en Medellin, Colombia

Overview: The Holy Week of Easter is the most important Catholic religious festival in South America.

Semana Santa, Holy Week, celebrates the last days of Christ's life, the Crucifixion and Resurrection, as well as the end of Lent. Semana Santa is observed with a range of celebrations, from the most solemnly religious, to a mix of pagan/Catholic.

There is a four day long weekend in Medellin where many locals like travel to family fincas to celebrate Semana Santa while spending time with family and loved ones during the four day break.

Semana Santa in Medellin: Part 1

Semana Santa en Medellin: Part 2

Friday, April 10, 2009

The Good Gringo in Colombia: Paul Bardwell

In Memoriam of Paul Bardwell

The Good Gringo -- The Story of Paul Bardwell
by Randolph T. Holhut

HATFIELD, MA -- At a time when most of the world views the United States with a mixture of fear and disgust, it is necessary to remember that not every American is ugly, and many people out there are working to promote the best values of our country.

We lost one of those people on Nov. 29. His name was Paul Bardwell and he died of cancer at the age of 49 in a country he loved dearly - Colombia.

It is a unlikely story - the eldest son of a Yankee family that traces its lineage in this little New England town to the Colonial era, becoming a revered figure in a South American country that Americans only think of as a place of cocaine and violence. But it is a story worth telling, because it shows that the best diplomacy comes from the people, and that art and culture can build more bridges than guns and tanks ever will.

Hatfield is my home town, and I came back on Jan. 15 for a memorial service for Paul. I know his family well, and his accomplishments were a constant source of pride to them all.

In the back parlor of the Congregational Church, the family posted a map of the world. They surrounded it with blowups of pages from nearly 30 years of Paul's passports, and they put a push pin in every country he visited - 88 in all, on every continent except the poles.

Paul loved travel, but of all the places he went, he loved Colombia the best. He first arrived there in December 1977. He had just graduated from Gettysburg College, and he and his brother Jonathan decided to take a bus-and-train trip through Mexico and Central America. Their journey ended in Medellin, the Andean city that would become synonymous with drug trafficking a decade later.

Paul fell in love with Medellin and its people. He immersed himself into Colombian life. He moved there and never returned to Hatfield.

In 1979, he started working for the Colombian American Bi National Center - or the Colombo Americano, as the locals call it - a private, non-profit, locally-run organization devoted to cultural and academic exchange between the United States, Colombia and the rest of the world. The Colombo accepts no government money and is very protective of its independence.

By 1983, Paul was the Colombo's director, and the center had been transformed from being primarily an English language institute to a cultural center and meeting place for the people of Medellin.

"Paul Bardwell was always convinced of one thing: that people always wanted to know more and that he was going to respond to that need," wrote the Medellin newspaper El Colombiano after his death. "He was never wrong about that. ...(He) always said, 'Culture is about what we speak, live, eat and express.'"

Not even terrorism could shake that vision. On April 14, 1988, guerrillas from the M-19, a leftist terrorist group, set off a 90-pound bomb that destroyed the Colombo's library. Instead of seeing disaster, Paul saw opportunity. He rebuilt the library - now the largest bilingual library in the city - within a matter of weeks. He then continued to make the Colombo a focal point of culture by opening up a pair of movie theaters, a restaurant and an art gallery.

He kept the Colombo in downtown Medellin at a time when many of its institutions were fleeing. He gave the art film scene a boost by helping start up a magazine,"Kinetoscopio." He pushed the artistic boundaries of the Colombo as far as he could, bringing the art of his adopted city to the rest of the world. He routinely worked from sunrise to sunset. His Yankee stubbornness and work ethic, combined with his love of life and culture, made him an unstoppable force.

That Paul Bardwell managed to accomplish so much in a country wracked by a four-decade long civil war that has killed more than 40,000 people, a country that's the third largest recipient of U.S. military aid (after Israel and Egypt), a place that has become the most dangerous nation in the Western Hemisphere, is nothing short of a miracle.

Paul got a funeral worthy of a head of state in Medellin. His body was laid in state in the first floor atrium of the Colombo. After the funeral service there, his coffin was carried out amid a long and loud roar of applause mixed with tears for the man they called "The Good Gringo."

Just before his death, Medellin presented Paul with the Porfiro Barba Jacob Medal, the city's most prestigious cultural award. Juan Diego Mejia, the city's secretary of culture, called him, "The Best Plan Colombia," a subtle swipe at the U.S. military aid program that has poured billions of dollars into Colombia over the past decade as part of the "war on drugs."

In diplomatic circles, the phrase "soft power" often comes up. It refers to the use of methods other than military force to achieve geopolitical influence. One can say that Paul Bardwell's use of art, cinema, dance and literature was soft power at its best. But he wasn't doing it at the behest of the United States or to advance its interests. His country truly was the world, and he believed to his dying day that building bridges between all cultures was the most important thing anyone can do.

There are many people in the Americas who will make sure Paul Bardwell's work will be carried on. The Gallery of the Centro Colombo Americano will be renamed the Paul Cory Bardwell Gallery at a Feb. 10 ceremony in Medellin. There are also plans in the works to start up a foundation to continue, in the words of gallery director Juan Alberto Gaviria, "the ideals which (Paul) devoted all his life, to use art as an instrument of peace among nations."

That ideal - using the arts as an instrument of peace - is about as good a monument as one can hope for when one's life is through. If a new tradition of peace and understanding can take root in the world, it will be people like Paul Bardwell that make it happen.

For more information on the Centro Colombo Americano, visit or call (57-4) 513-4444.

En Medellín hablar del Centro Colombo Americano es hablar de cultura, educación, intercambios, internacionalización y compromiso local. Es una institución que se ha caracterizado por dejarle a la ciudad un abanico de ofertas educativas y culturales, que la han convertido en un patrimonio social para los medellinenses.

Desde el arte, el Centro Colombo Americano trabaja constantemente por mostrar las nuevas tendencias y llevar el arte a escenarios sociales donde no tiene presencia y así incentivar su estudio y trabajo.

Y este trabajo puede conocerse en las diferentes exposiciones y muestras que se realiza en la galería principal de su sede en el Centro de Medellín: la Galería de Arte Contemporáneo Paul Bardwell.

La Galería fue fundada en 1985 y desde entonces no ha parado de apoyar y difundir la obra de innumerables artistas nacionales e internacionales preocupados por los problemas de la sociedad.

Wednesday, April 8, 2009

European Cinema Festival in Medellín

The best of the European cinema returns to Medellín during the traditional "Festival of European Cinema"

Eurocine which celebrates its 15 year anniversary.

Colombo Americano Center will show films in two separate screening rooms starting April 15-19th with submissions from twelve European countries.

Local foriegn film lovers will be able to see a selection of thirty films over five days, with submissions from Germany, Austria, Belgium, Spain, France, Holland, Italy, Poland, Portugal, Rumania, Sweden and Switzerland.

Along with the feature film screenings, Eurocine will screen 27 shorts from numerous European directors.

Centro Colombo Americano, Carrera 45 (El Palo) No. 53-24 Telephone: (57-4) 513 4444
General admission: 6.500 pesos.
Students and senior citizens: 5.000 pesos.

Festival admission packages available.
- Six films: 33 mil pesos.
- 12 films: 63 mil pesos.
- 18 films: 88 mil pesos.
- 24 films: 110 mil pesos.

El Centro Colombo Americano and El have 80 free passes available to Eurocine.

Send an email to with the following information:

- Mark Email Heading "Eurocine 2009."
- Include Full Name.
- Identifications / Cedula.
- Reply to the following question. ¿What do you like most about reading El

Winners will be notified by email before April 14th with instructions on when to pick up free tickets at Centro Colombo Americano.

For more info on showtimes and dates, visit EuroCine in Medellin

Bajo Las Estrellas - Spain

SUMMER HOURS (L'Heure D'Ete)- France

Eurocine 2009 se presenta en el Centro Colombo Americano, del 15 al 19 de abril de 2009.

Sunday, April 5, 2009

Travel Guide Map of Medellin, Colombia

The city of Medellín and the Antioquia region are the second most important economic and industrial hubs in the country and the epicenter of Colombian entrepreneurship.

Medellín is synonymous with opportunity, a stellar example of social urbanism that makes every resident part of the life of the city and turns the city itself into an economic, education, tourist, cultural, sports, and research hub.

Today one of Colombia’s—and indeed Latin America’s—safest cities, Medellín has taken its place again in the world and the global community.

Having captivated world attention, Medellín is being touted as a not-to-be-missed destination for those who seek to understand the heart of Colombia. Foreign visitor arrivals have soared in the past three years, as has the number of national and international events.

Colombia's second city of Medellín, is undergoing a spectacular economic and social transformation, open to visitors from around the world.

Travel Guide Map of Medellin, Colombia (View Map)

View Larger Map

Google Map of Medellin, Colombia

Travel Guide Map of Medellin Metro System (View Map)

Robin Finley un Californiano en Medellín

Robin Finley vive en Medellín

"Quiero una arepa alegre", le pidió Finley al diseñador. Éste dibujó una con sombrero y corbata en forma de Suramérica. Es el logo de la revista. Nunca antes había comido arepa. Sólo unas tortillas delgadas y de fábrica, en su país.

El Diamante y La Arepa

ROBIN FINLEY ES un californiano radicado en Medellín desde hace cuatro meses. Decidió quedarse a vivir aquí, atraído por el espíritu espontáneo de la gente. Fundó una revista para turistas: La Arepa.

"Hace 30 años, en Colombia me robaron la bolsa. ¡Hoy, me van a robar a mi hijo!"

Fue la exclamación de Mrs. Ann, la mamá de Robin Finley, cuando éste le contó hace unos meses que había decidido mudarse a Medellín.

Él es un gringo de 31 años, que se cansó de la rutina de 10 horas diarias de oficina, sentado frente a un computador de la Google y otras empresas, sin un cambio, como debe ser la descripción universal de la monotonía.

Y echó a andar por América Latina.

Antes de avanzar en la aventura de Finley, digamos que la primera parte de la expresión de su madre se debió a que en una visita suya a Bogotá, hace 30 años, un raponero le arrebató su bolsa y ella quedó convencida de que Colombia es un país peligroso, en el que no se puede andar sin que le roben a uno sus cosas. La segunda, a que a su hijo le robaron aquí el corazón. No una mujer, ni varias, sino las ciudades, el clima, la apertura de la gente de esta parte del continente.

Graduado en Ciencias Políticas de la Universidad de Berkeley, carrera que nunca ha ejercido, "vivía en California, un lugar lleno de latinos, pero no me podía comunicar con nadie". Decidió viajar a Guatemala a aprender español.

Estuvo allí cinco meses hasta que compró una motocicleta para seguir viajando hacia el sur. La llamó «El Diamante» e hizo pintar este nombre en un sitio visible de su vehículo. Llegó a Panamá a principios de 2008 y se montó en un barco con su moto y llegó a Cartagena. Pagó 350 dólares por esa travesía de ocho días que disfrutó como un niño. Bellas le parecieron las islas de San Blas y simpáticos los delfines que rodearon mucho tiempo la nave.

"¡Súper bacanos!" Dice con ese español que no termina de domesticar.

Apenas desembarcó en la Heroica, halló un corrillo de lugareños en la calle y se acercó para contarles un chiste. Y desde ese momento sitió que Colombia era el país para él. Que hasta los guatemaltecos resultaban fríos y reservados en comparación con la relación espontánea y cálida de los colombianos.

Siguió su viaje en moto hacia el interior. Se detuvo en los pueblos, hizo una crónica de Valdivia, municipio que le atrajo por ser una muestra típica de Antioquia.

Y con solo tres días que estuvo en Medellín descubrió que era la ciudad del mundo en que quería vivir.

Tardó casi un mes en convencer a su madre de que este país no es el sitio de horror que ella creía y le pintaban los medios de comunicación. Que la economía colombiana está mejor que la de su país en estos tiempos de recesión y, por eso, había más oportunidades para él si se mudaba. Además, le dijo, haría realidad un viejo sueño: fundaría una revista para extranjeros.

Y aquí está el gringo desde hace cuatro meses. Ya sabe decir, además de "súper bacano", "me parece el colmo", "mañé", "parce", "chimba", "sisas", expresiones que le causan gracia.

Y no encontró elemento más simbólico que la arepa para bautizar su revista. "El guaro también, pero no es tan sonoro".

Vive en Laureles, en una casa que comparte con otras seis personas, entre estudiantes de la Universidad Pontificia Bolivariana y dos extranjeros más.

Entre sus metas está conocer cada día algún sitio distinto de la ciudad. Por eso, cuando le pregunté dónde quería que habláramos, dijo que en la Biblioteca de La Ladera. No porque la conociera sino, precisamente, porque no la conocía. Y con ese espíritu pragmático de los de su cultura, me dijo: "así puedo conversar y, al mismo tiempo, conocer un lugar nuevo". Se asombró al saber que allí, en otro tiempo, funcionó una cárcel, de la que algunas columnas quedan para recordarlo. Con la ciudad al fondo, explicó que El Diamante es él, y así le dice a las mujeres. Contó que espera a su madre en junio y que le mostrará los metrocables, la llevará a Guatapé y le hará cambiar la idea de Colombia que ella conserva en su mente desde hace 30 años.

La revista

La Arepa, cuyo primer número aparecerá a fines de abril, es una publicación en inglés. Es guía cultural y de vida nocturna de Medellín.

Trae mapas, instrucciones sobre transporte, sitios agradables: restaurantes y atractivos turísticos. En el N° 1 incluirá una entrevista con una maquilladora de modelos, otra con el grupo musical Don Kristóbal, un reportaje gráfico de pescadores en el Caribe, cómo aparentar ser menos forastero usando el "pues" y el "vos", una crónica de Valdivia y mucho más.