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article imageReview: 'Nuestro Monte Luna' is a coming-of-age film with bullfighting Special

By Michael Thomas     May 2, 2015 in Entertainment
'Nuestro Monte Luna' is ostensibly about bullfighting, but the film manages to be about so much more as it details the lives of the people in a small Colombian town.
Bullfighting is a sacred art to many, and to be able to step into a ring with the magnificent beasts is a dream for many kids in the town of Choachí, Colombia. But as the years have gone by, more and more people have protested the animal cruelty inherent in the practice.
Anti-bullfighting messages clearly reach Colombia, when Bogotá announces it will ban the practice. Naturally, the people of Choachí are worried it will affect the bullfighting season.
But as big as the issue is across the world, director Pablo Alvarez-Mesa wasn't interested in making a film for or against bullfighting. Instead, he chose to tell the story of the culture and people around bullfighting. Nuestro Monte Luna is really about a group of teenagers training to become bullfighters under the tutelage of the sensei-like Nicolas.
Alvarez-Mesa completely lets his subjects do the talking — there's not a single talking head or on-screen graphics or narration to tell the story. It's through the eyes of the aspiring bullfighters and townspeople that the audience can glimpse Choachí's culture and its insistence on calling itself "the bullfighting capital of Colombia."
Lots of these issues come up over the film's roughly hour-and-a-half long run time: anti-bullfighting protesters chant slogans in Bogotá; Colombia attempts to negotiate with the FARC guerillas; one of the Choachí bullfighters continues his education in Madrid; a drug scandal threatens to break up Nicolas's school.
The film demands attention from start to finish, as it won't tell you what to think or feel. Bullfighting is only tangential to the real story of Nuestro Monte Luna.
To see all of Digital Journal's coverage of the 2015 Hot Docs International Film Festival, click here.
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