Top 15 Colombian Movies & TV Shows (According to Me)

While reading guidebooks and talk to other travelers is helpful, there are few better ways to get acquainted with a new country than watching locally made films. All of the following movies and TV shows illustrate aspects of Colombian culture that will be difficult to find elsewhere. My favorites (out of order) are:

#1: Paraiso Travel

Set in Colombia, Mexico, and New York, this movie follows a young Colombian couple’s harrowing (illegal) immigration journey to the US. Aside from being robbed, mistreated, and misled, they end up getting separated in a country completely foreign to them.

#2: Rosario Tijeras

María Fernanda Yépes and Jasmine Wanders

Rosario Tijeras is a classic Colombian story about a young girl from one of Medellin’s poor neighborhoods who turns hired killer. Its original format, a novel written by Jorge Franco, was made into both a movie and a highly addictive telenovela. It also inspired the photo project from my first semester at photography school, called Las Creencias (The Beliefs.) Pictured above is me with the star of the telenovela, María Fernanda Yépes.

#3: La Cara Oculta

This is a new movie starring one of my favorite Colombian actresses, the beautiful Martina García. It’s about a Spanish orchestra director who moves to Bogotá with his girlfriend. The home that they choose houses a secret that ruins relationships and destroys lives.

#4: Chepe Fortuna

Maybe the cheesiest one on the list, Chepe Fortuna is an extremely popular telenovela that ended in 2011. Starring several well-known local actors, including Colombia’s sweetheart Taliana Vargas, the story of the poor fisherman and the rich Colombian family is another addictive choice.

#5: El Encantador

El Encantador is a telenovela based on the true story of David Murcia Guzmán, the biggest swindler to come out of this country. He was responsible for a pyramid scheme that stole millions of dollars from Colombian families. While it was popular in other Latin American countries, it was taken off air locally – probably due to the fact that the wound was too fresh to be considered entertaining.

#6: Los Colores de la Montana

This is an excellent movie that offers a rare look at the effects of the internal conflict on the pueblos, or small towns.

#7: La Virgen de los Sicarios

This super low-budget film sheds light on Medellin’s sicario (assassin) culture, including their relationship with local saint Maria Auxiliadora.

#8: La Vendedora de Rosas

This is a classic Colombian movie about Medellin’s street children. A must watch for anyone coming to live in the city.

#9: Satanás

This is another film based on a true story of Campo Elías Delgado, a vet who went on a killing spree in a restaurant in the 1980s. It follows the intertwined lives of other characters and the results of their bad decisions. I bet after you watch this movie, you’ll never leave your drink unattended in a bar again.

#10: La Sierra

La Sierra is a fascinating documentary about the paramilitary conflict in one of Medellin’s barrios (neighborhoods). It gives an unforgettable, up-close look at the individual lives of those effected. You won’t see anything like this on the news.

#11: Love in the time of Cholera

Even though it’s pretty Hollywood, it’s still a good film to watch if you’re a fan of Gabriel García Márquez, one of Colombia’s most influential writers, or if you’re too lazy to read the book.

#12: Sin Tetas No Hay Paraiso

This is by far one of my absolute favorite movies on the list. It details the female fascination with fake breasts and plastic surgery as well as the prostitution industry here.

#13: El Vuelco del Cangrejo

I liked this movie because it takes place on Colombia’s Pacific coast, an area that is not often featured in films.

#14: Los Viajes del Viento

Los Viajes del Viento is the story of an accordion player and a young boy’s journey through Colombia’s Caribbean region. The cinementography alone is enough reason to watch it, guiding you through the coast’s lush green mountains to its barren deserts.

#15: María Llena Eres de Gracia

Maria, Full of Grace is an internationally known movie about a young woman’s journey as a drug mule.

Did I miss any? What’s your favorite Colombian movie/TV show?

  • http://www.facebook.com/SlyOnce Sly Once

    El Capo was outstanding and Las Munecas de la Mafia actually was more than pretty girls in trouble.

  • Adam Wester

    Thank you so much Jasmine! I’m always searching for Colombian movies to watch – I’ve only seen about 4-5 out of this list. The rest of these will definitely keep me busy for a bit ;) Thanks again, and I hope all is going well with medellinnightlife! Chao

  • http://dev.jasminewanders.com Jasmine Stephenson

    Cool thanks for the recommendations!

  • http://dev.jasminewanders.com Jasmine Stephenson

    Thanks Adam! Hopefully they’ll keep you occupied during the rainy month of October.

  • http://twitter.com/ecardenas0011 Efrain Cardenas

    As with everything else, tastes differ. When I was there I made it a point to obtain every colombian film I could get my hands on. This list is definitely missing *la estrategia del caracol* (from 1993, and oldie but definitely worth watching it. BTW, your list seems to focus on more recent films). Get a hold of *pequeñas voces*, first colombian 3D film by Jairo Carrillo, narrated by children displaced by the internal conflict. *Dr. Aleman*, starring , takes place in Cali, and Siloe, a dangerous part of town, looking at Cali from the ‘outsider’ perspective by Oliver Keidel starring August Diehl. Also, check out *el arriero* by Guillermo Calle, it deals with drug mules. *Retratos en un mar de mentiras* is one of my favorites and it deals with the displaced people. *Rabia* stars Martina Garcia. *En coma* and *sumas y restas* could be added to the list as well as *la sociedad y el semáforo* by Rubén Mendoza. I am glad to see there are few things being made in this field.

  • http://twitter.com/lengthytravel Lengthy Travel

    I haven’t seen it yet but quite a while ago a Colombian friend recommended Soñar No Cuesta Nada.

  • Matthew B

    La Vendedora De Rosas!!! That movie is RAW!! I just happened to be flipping through the channels the other night and happened to catch this movie and was glued to the tv all the way to the sad, bitter, tragic, effed up ending. El Zarco, that dude was a maniac!! I’d compare this movie to the brazilian movie “City of God”. Every gringo thinking about moving to medellin needs to watch this movie. Wander into the barrios up north or up on the hillsides if you want to, but you better have your lily-white arse back in poblado before the sun goes down.

    This is what it says on the wikipedia article “Many of the actors that starred in the film are now dead or in prison.[2] Geovanni Quiroz was murdered in Medellín and Leidy Tabares will be in prison for 26 years for her role in the murder of a taxi driver in Medellin.”

    Great post Jasmine, I didn’t know the name of this movie until I saw it here on your blog.

  • flomedellin

    La pasion de Gabriel is also a very good movie!
    Thanks for the list. Are these movies available somewhere on dvd (I’m not talking about ripped dvd that we can find in the streets, but real DVD!)?
    It’s very hard to find colombian movies on dvd in medellin, event in its numerous mall centers, that only sell US movies…..

  • http://dev.jasminewanders.com Jasmine Stephenson

    Yeah I heard that about all of the actors… sad. That’s a great comparison to make. I loved the City of God and they definitely have some things in common.

  • http://dev.jasminewanders.com Jasmine Stephenson

    I wanted to see that but it sounds really similar to The Crime of Father Amaro. As far as real DVDs… maybe Panamericana?

  • http://dev.jasminewanders.com Jasmine Stephenson

    Nice, I will definitely have to check all of these out.

  • CapitanJusticia

    Hi Jasmine, it’s always good to hear from (US)Americans who have nice things to say about Colombia. Unfortunately as you probably know, we Colombians who live in the US rarely hear kind comments about our country, even after all the great progress Colombia has made recently.

    As for your list I would also recommend the Colombian worldwide hit novela from 1999-2000 ‘Betty la Fea’ which was remade in several countries, including the US, as ‘Ugly Betty’.

    ‘El Cartel de los Sapos’, starring Manolo Cardona, is based on a book by a former drug dealer turned government witness, was also excellent. A feature film based on the book it is coming out this week in Colombia and it looks pretty good!

    Another Colombian movie I really loved was ‘Soñar No Cuesta Nada’ (‘A Ton of Luck’ in English). It’s based on the real life story of several Colombian soldiers who found a cache of FARC money in the jungle and kept it. A novela sequel to the movie called ‘Regreso a la Guaca’ aired recently on RCN and had most of the same cast as the movie.

    ‘El Capo’ (2009), a novela about a fictional drug kingpin starring Marlon Moreno (from Soñar No Cuesta Nada) was also a huge hit and ‘El Capo 2′ is now airing in the US and Colombia.

    ‘La Pola’ (2010) is a novela about Colombia’s most famous independence heroine (she appears on the ten thousand peso bill) who helped in the revolution against the Spanish. It’s a beautifully shot historical epic that anyone who wants to learn about Colombia’s war for independence should watch.

    Another one of my favorites is the comedy ‘Bolivar Soy Yo’ (2002) starring another of Colombia’s best actors, Robinson Diaz (he was amazing in ‘El Cartel de los Sapos’). It’s about an actor who plays Simon Bolivar in a telenovela who goes crazy as he begins to think he really is Bolivar and sets out to finish El Libertador’s dream of uniting the Latin American nations that Bolivar liberated.

    ‘Perro Come Perro’ (Dog Eat Dog) from 2007, also starring Marlon Moreno, is a thriller about two hit men in Cali who bungle a job and is also worth seeing.

    ‘Te Busco’ (2002) a comedy starring Robinson Diaz about a man who starts a band just to woo an attractive singer is also a good one.

    And finally, check out ‘El Rey’ (2004), also with Marlon Moreno, an interesting movie about one of the first drug kingpins from Cali in the 1960′s.

    Some of these movies are on Youtube or Amazon.com

    @CapitanColombia on Twitter

  • http://twitter.com/ecardenas0011 Efrain Cardenas

    The place to find them is on the street. Like you mentioned, it is hard to find DVD, least of all, colombian one in mall centers. Go to center of town, talk to a few people, browse, and you will get lucky. True, they may be ripped, but the quality on many of them are good. Can’t have one and the other…

  • Melissa McCutcheon

    Saving The Disposable Ones is absolutely brilliant…

  • Billy Adkins

    I am so happy to see that you included “Los Colores de la Montanas”. It
    is an amazing movie. The acting is so “real”. You truly believe that you
    are a bystander watching the life of the rural people of Colombia. A
    beautiful film with a bittersweet ending. I was left wondering what
    would happen to Manuel and what his future would be.

    I was born
    and raised and have lived all of my life in the southern U.S. My best
    friend is from Pereira, Colombia but came to the US 14 years ago to go
    to University and settled in the States after completing his degree. I
    have traveled with him and his girlfriend, who is also from Colombia, to
    Colombia two times and was able to experience Medellin and on both trips. I
    could easily live in Medellin. It is an awesome city. The people I met
    were so very kind and humble. I respect all Colombians for their
    humility – a human characteristic that is now existent in the U.S.

    I
    plan to travel to Colombia in 2014 and hopefully have some time in
    Medellin and return to Pereira and Guatape. Take care and I hope you continue to enjoy your life in
    Colombia.

  • http://dev.jasminewanders.com Jasmine Stephenson

    Thanks for sharing your story Billy. And yes that movie is amazing, you really do feel like you’re in that small town with them.