2019 Sundance Docs in Focus: LAPÜ

Courtesy of Sundance Institute | photo by Angello Faccini

Juan Pablo Polanco and César Alejandro Jaimes accompany an indigenous Colombian woman on a vital spiritual journey.

Festival Section:
World Cinema Documentary Competition


Sundance Program Description:

On a windy night in the Colombian desert, a young Wayúu woman named Doris sleeps in her hammock and has a dream that she reunites with a deceased cousin. When she awakens and shares the encounter with her grandmother, they agree that her vision suggests the beginning of an ancient ritual, one central to their culture’s relationship with death, dreams, and memory. According to custom, Doris must travel to her cousin’s grave and exhume the body from its coffin. Only after she cleanses her cousin’s bones will the physical and spiritual barriers of death crumble.

Lapü documents Doris’s journey into the realm of death, layering her ritual with hypnotic visual and sonic abstraction. Mirroring the Wayúu belief that the deceased coexist with the living, filmmakers Juan Pablo Polanco and César Alejandro Jaimes resurrect the world of the dead so that it lives side by side with Doris as she embarks on her “second burial.” The result is a haunting, mysterious vision that blurs Western concepts of loss and time and flips the conventional approach to documentary storytelling on its head.

Some Background:

  • Juan Pablo Polanco and César Alejandro Jaimes

    Polanco and Jaimes are co-founders of Los Niños Films and make their feature directorial debut with this project.


  • Julián Quintero Beltrán

    This marks the first Sundance credit for Quintero Beltrán.


  • María Canela Reyes

    Canela Reyes also makes her Sundance debut with this project.

Assistant Editor:

  • Camila Mercadal

    Previous projects that Mercadel has cut have screened at Sheffield, Göteborg, Rome, SANFIC, and Mar del Plata.

Why You Should Watch:
Polanco and Jaimes bring a dreamlike quality to their hybrid film, eschewing typical modes of ethnographic storytelling to instead develop a more sensorial experience of Wayúu ritual and life.

More Info:

For Sundance screening dates and times, click the film title in the first paragraph.

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Filed under Documentary, Film, Film Festivals, Recommendations, Sundance

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