Nowhere to fall!
PLAY IT, SHOUT IT, FEEL IT!
“The Bullerengue is a way of life. You wake up, you sing. You wash the dishes, you sing. You work, you sing. No matter the violence we faced, we sing...”
From the Colombian coast to New York City, "Nowhere to Fall" is a journey into a centuries-old, Afro-Colombian, music/dance tradition, told through the intertwined stories of three women across three generations, who use music as a tool of resistance and reconciliation.
Trough the voices of Ceferina Banquez (Montes de Maria), Pabla Flores (Maria la Baja) and Carolina Oliveros (New York), the movie explores the music of the bullerengue as a way of life, keeping alive an oral tradition, giving the voice to minorities affected in diferente ways by the civil war, underlining the importance of the art and the community, the women's rol , and the afrocolombian identity.
The Bullerengue was born in the region of Montes de Maria during Colonial times, when escaped slaves created the dance as a means of expressing the realities of daily life, resistance and hope. The region was greatly affected by Colombian’s long internal war. Many residents were displaced or killed. But the tradition never entirely disappeared. Today, after five decades of violence (during which more than a quarter million people Colombians died and nearly seven million displaced) the area has become safe enough to return. Only now can this story be told.
Immigration, heritage, memory, community and identity are brought together in a musical and colorfully poetic combination, bringing up the contradictions of a landscape marked with the traces of colonialism and slavery, as well as the differences between the two very different countries.
First shoot in Colombia: Completed! :)
Just returned from Colombia, (Montes de Maria and Cartagena), where I went to to find new subjects and stories, and.... it was amazing!
The Festival of Maria la Baja, welcomed us in a very special way.
Thanks to Harlan Rodriguez and Carolina Oliveros for making this experience unforgettable!
More about the Bullerengue
Bullerengue is a rhythm belonging to the bailes cantados tradition of Colombia. The main elements are the voice, drums and palms (clapping). It dates back to the African descendants of Palenque de San Basilio, a village in the foothills near Montes de María founded by escaped slaves in the 17th century.
Though there’s no official history, oral tradition claims this rhythm started as a fertility ritual danced by pregnant women unable to dance faster rhythms. That's why the dance consists of small steps and a slow movement of the hips with hands touching the belly.
The word “Bullerengue” has different meanings. One of them is “party noise”. Another refers to the pollera, a kind of billowy skirt used in this dance.
Some of its main characteristics include:
- strong emphasis on rhythm and improvisation over melody
- employment of large groups of musicians (usually at least 12, mostly women)
- call-and-response between the lead singer (la cantadora) and chorus (las respondonas)
The group forms a semicircle, and las respondonas step out to dance one by one, called by the the sounds of the drums. They also invite people to dance and participate in the celebration.