‘Red River’ Explores How Colombia’s Mythical ‘River of Seven Colours’ Has Become A Victim Of Its Own Beauty

By 24 October, 2023

Guillermo Quintero’s contemplative second documentary Red River (Rio Rojo, France-Colombia, 2023) offers a quiet exploration of the intricate relationship between humanity and the environment, and the increasing imbalance caused by deforestation and tourism in remote areas. In this case, the mythical “Río Rojo” — also known as the river of seven colours, regarded as one of the most beautiful in the world — and its surroundings, located in the north of the Colombian Amazon.

A sequence in the beginning of the film shows a family who inhabits the region. The mother washes clothes, whilst her children bathe and play in the river. It is a beautiful scene that conveys intimacy — with each other and the environment surrounding them. One of the kids is Oscar, a young man who is one of three characters followed in the documentary. The others are an elderly lady named Doña Maria, and a man who lives with her called Sabino.

Their relationships with each other are unclear. Could they be grandmother, father and son? Are they not family but simply inhabitants of the same region? The director chooses to leave us wondering as his camera traverses through the bucolic rituals of their daily lives where the sound of nature is more prominent than that of themselves. A peaceful reality that every day becomes more and more disrupted by the complexities presented by the purposeful clearing of forested land and unregulated tourism.

Red River presents dichotomies, and serves as a poignant reminder of the pressing social and ecological challenges currently affecting many parts of the world. As Quintero stated in the video introduction to the film, the loss of the Amazon is the loss of a dream. His poetic documentary film offers audiences an opportunity to reflect on the delicate balance of nature and society with subtlety and affection.

Red River is being shown at the 42nd edition of the Cambridge Film Festival running until Thursday 26th October. The film has been curated as part of the Environmental & Community selection of films with a focus on sustainability, the impact of greenwashing, the protection of native traditions, and climate change. The final screening is on Wednesday 25 October at 3:00PM. Tickets can be purchased online.

Follow Sounds and Colours: Facebook / Twitter / Instagram / Mixcloud / Soundcloud / Bandcamp

Subscribe to the Sounds and Colours Newsletter for regular updates, news and competitions bringing the best of Latin American culture direct to your Inbox.