‘Colombiana’ draws ire among Colombian Americans
“Improved” version of the Colombiana poster designed by Carlos J Gara of PorColombia (Courtesy of PorColombia)
Buzz is growing around the new action film Colombiana starring Zoe Saldana, which opens in theaters nationwide on Aug. 26. But it’s not all good buzz, especially among young Latinos.
Members of the non-profit group PorColombia, among other Colombian Americans, have taken to Twitter and Facebook to start a grassroots campaign against the stereotypes and lack of Colombian substance they say the film portrays.
“We’re very disappointed that Hollywood is using the Colombian armed conflict again as cheap propaganda for its profit, it shows its total lack of creativity,” said Carlos Macias, the group’s president. PorColombia, which aims to improve the perception of Colombia in the US, is made up of 12 college chapters in the US and Canada.
As part of their #ColombiaIsBeautiful campaign on social media, the group has been circulating an “improved” version of the Colombiana poster, in which the tagline “Vengeance is Beautiful” is crossed out in favor of “Colombia is Beautiful.” Saldana’s gun has been photoshopped over with flowers.
“We don’t have anything against Zoe Saldana portraying a Colombian, that’s not our concern at all,” said Macias. “They’re just using a very negative stereotype for their profit. If you’re going to talk about the Colombian armed conflict, go ahead, we’re the first to start a conversation. But don’t use it arbitrarily. We work hard just to show that we are more than coffee and cocaine. This movie sets us back years in the mind of millions of Americans.”
In Colombiana, the scenes that are supposed to be set in Bogota were filmed in Mexico City, according to IMDB. The rest of the movie was shot in Chicago and France by a mostly French crew, which includes co-screenwriter and producer Luc Besson, the famed French filmmaker who directed action-packed films with ass-kicking female leads such La Femme Nikita, The Professional and The Fifth Element. Not surprisingly, Colombiana is about a young woman called Cataleya (Saldana) who has been trained as a serial killer and wants to avenge the death of her parents, who were brutally murdered in front of her when she was 9 years old and living in Colombia.
“Just to use the name ‘Colombiana’ doesn’t make any justice to Latinas or Colombian women at all,” said Macias, who stressed PorColombia’s anti-defamation cause against Colombiana is especially poignant among Colombians and Colombian Americans abroad who deal with stereotypes every day.
PorColombia would like Sony Pictures to apologize to the Colombian community, especially those who have been victims of violence, and for the studio to donate part of the profits to educational programs for children affected by armed conflict in Colombia.