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Abstract

This article explores the manner in which popular films from Colombia—

specifically comedies, such as the movie El paseo, directed by Harold Trompetero in 2010, which has been the highest grossing movie to date in the history of movies produced in Colombia–may be used in the classroom in the context of a World Language, Literature, and Culture department in the United States. It is the contention of this study that such a choice is far from common due to diverse issues, which include the limited access to international distribution of the majority of the so-called “national film” or, in this case, “Colombian film.” As a consequence, the reception of these films is conditioned by what British visual art historian Kobena Mercer has characterized as a “burden of representation;” that is, the fact that any product not coming from the heart of mainstream western culture is burdened by the implication that its content will be considered as representative of the identity with which it has been associated, regardless of how nuanced its position may actually be in its original context. Furthermore, many foreign films arrive in North America by way of festivals, which may impose an additional layer of expectations. This analysis also examines the need to complement, modulate, and separate from some trends common in the study of Colombian film, as discussed by film scholar Juana Suárez in her volume Cinembargo Colombia: Critical Essays on Colombian Cinema (i.e. the omnipresence of “violence” as a determining narrative, the false dichotomy of “good/bad” film without making explicit the criteria for such a taxonomy, among others). The article reviews some of the challenges involved in teaching the film with attention to intercultural communication. Classroom readings include legislative documents (such as Law 397/1997 and Law 814/2003), miscellaneous film criticism from Colombian newspapers and blogs, and critical concepts by film scholar Andrew Higson, Mexican anthropologist Marcela Lagarde, and Spanish communication specialist Miguel Rodrigo Alsina, among others.