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75 min. Wayuunaiki, Spanish.

Doris’s dead cousin appears to her in a dream, they used to share much. This vision prompts her to embark upon the most important ritual of the Wayuu, an indigenous group living in Colombia’s Guajira Desert. To ensure that her cousin may rest in peace, Doris must exhume the bones of the deceased and clean them before burying them a second time. With the support of her mother and grandmother, she sets out on a richly sensorial journey that brings her into close contact with the dead and their world.
Together with their protagonist, César Alejandro Jaimes and Juan Pablo Polanco have crafted a debut film full of haunting images and sounds, with a diaphanous aesthetic that gives form to the unseen. The camera glides smoothly and naturally between different worlds and forms of existence, between day and night, moving back and forth from blazing light to all-enveloping darkness. The filmmakers’ gentle gaze combines intimacy and distance at the same time. More than the ritual, they are interested in the faces of its participants, across which flicker suspicion, curiosity and fascination. Just as their own response might be and our own one too. No world is hermetic. (Hanna Keller)

César Alejandro Jaimes was born in Bogotá, Colombia in 1993. In 2010, he participated in an analogue experimental photography workshop at the Guerrero Academy of Arts in Bogotá. He is studying film at the Corporacion Universitaria Unitec Oficial in Bogotá. Jaimes is a co-founder of the production company Los Niños Films in Bogotá. Lapü is his first feature-length film.

Juan Pablo Polanco was born in Bogotá, Colombia in 1994. He studied fine arts at the Javeriana University in Bogotá and worked as a cameraman, editor and assistant director on documentary film productions. After studying film direction at the Escuela de Cinematografía y del Audiovisual de la Comunidad de Madrid (ECAM), he co-founded the production company Los Niños Films in Bogotá. Lapü is his first feature-length film.

Touching another time

When we were children, the news on TV only spoke of death, of dead people, of statistics, in a way that denied the particularity of each deadly conflict and instead associated those bodies exclusively to political results and to war rumours. A later stage of our childhood is linked to memories of the death of close relatives, of cold hospital rooms, and of the fear of approaching a coffin wherein lay the body of someone close to us. In this context, it is normal that our relationship with death should be characterised by fear and repression.
A history of violence like ours begs the question: how much did it cost us to regard death as something valuable and beautiful, to embrace or at least touch a dead body? Have we lost the ability to see death as something extremely precious in our lives? LAPÜ is an attempt at getting in touch with our relationship to death, loss and memory, and to give it new meaning by connecting it to life. Doris encounters death with innocence, curiosity, fear and conflicting emotions, but she comes close to that mystery, to that place in the shadows.
The ritual and gestures through which Doris and her family achieve this contact with death distort and redefine the sense of time and place for all those present during the ceremony. It resembles a staged scene, with everyone taking on new and unfamiliar roles. Doris said that it felt as if she were drunk while she was cleaning the body. In retrospect, the film crew could not tell for sure how long the cleaning had lasted. It seems that the gesture of intimacy with death really affected us, leaving a deep impression and creating a memory that we will certainly return to time and again throughout our lives.
The memory of the ceremony continues to intrigue us, we still cannot decipher what we felt at that moment. We are certain that this memory will return to us at a time of loss and convey a message. Time in that place opened for itself the possibility to be something else, to question itself, to bring back the dead, to escape the logic that we ascribe to it in order to avoid floating in uncertainty. And yet, it was precisely this feeling of uncertainty that drove the film, this need to touch in order to find an answer that cannot be put into words.
In La Guajira, if you ask an old man who no longer counts the years how old he is, it is common to receive the answer, “Older than you!” (César Alejandro Jaimes, Juan Pablo Polanco)

Production Julián Quintero. Production company Los Niños Films (Bogotá, Colombia). Written and directed by César Alejandro Jaimes, Juan Pablo Polanco. Cinematography Angello Faccini. Editing César Alejandro Jaimes, Juan Pablo Polanco. Sound design Antonio Ponce. Sound Yesid Vasquez. With Doris Gonzalez Jusayu, Carmen Gonzalez Jusayu.

World sales Syndicado Film Sales
Premiere January 26, 2019, Sundance Film Festival


César Alejandro Jaimes: 2016: La Venda (37 min.). 2017: Portete (5 Min., co-directed by Juan Pablo Polanco). 2019: Lapü.

Juan Pablo Polanco: 2017: Portete (5 Min., co-directed by Cesar Alejandro Jaimes). 2018: A la Deriva (12 min.). 2019: Lapü.

Photo: © Los Niños Films

Funded by:

  • Logo Minister of State for Culture and the Media
  • Logo des Programms NeuStart Kultur