Birds of Passage review – dark odyssey to the heart of the drugs trade | Peter Bradshaw's film of the week

Ciro Guerra’s poetic – and shocking – drama about marijuana trafficking in Colombia digs deep into the culture of the indigenous people involved

Ciro Guerra’s earlier film Embrace of the Serpent from 2015 was an audacious journey into Colombia’s dark interior, figurative and literal, a jungle full of Kurtzian fear. Now he has entered into a fascinating auteur collaboration with his longtime producer Cristina Gallego to create this really startling and intriguing movie, which was Colombia’s shortlisted entry for best foreign film in this year’s Academy Awards. It grafts quasi-ethnographic docu-drama on to druglord turf war epic, mixing professional and nonprofessional actors. This is film-making that really does push at the limits of storytelling and generic templates, and it’s brimming with images and ideas.

Taking place over a timespan of about 20 years, from the 1960s to the 80s, Birds of Passage is a poetic re-imagining of the

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