Pirotecnia (2019)


Pirotecnia (English: Mute Fire) is a documentary by director Federico Atehortua Arteaga.

While the director makes a film about the origins of Cinema in Colombia, suddenly, his mother, apparently suffers a strange mental disease: without explanation she stops talking. This situation forces him to stop his film and starts recording his mother’s everyday activity, trying to understand what possibly is happening to her. The director decides to revisit his family’s past and finds a video footage of a children’s theatre play, shot by his mother, in which he himself acts as a false guerrilla fighter. This discovery brings him back to his original film and leads him to find the relationship that exists between the origins of Colombian cinema and what the media called “falsos positivos” a painful recent even in which it was found out that the army killed innocent youngsters and dressed then up as guerrilla fighters to give the impression they were winning the armed conflict.


On 06 March 1906, four men were executed for the attempted murder of Colombian president Rafael Reyes. The event was photographed, and the photos were later used for a fictionalised film on the failed coup. From then on, cinema in this South American country has been inextricably linked to its violent history. Moving images have been used for historiography, propaganda, disinformation and to instil unity in a nation that refuses to come together. Falsos positivos, murdered youths disguised as guerrillas by the army to simulate military success, are a common element.

Federico Atehortúa Arteaga starts his film essay as an investigation into Colombia’s visual history, but gets side-tracked when his mother suddenly stops talking. His attention shifts to his own past, in which TV coverage of the civil war and home movies in which he dressed as a guerrilla play a role. Film reveals itself to be a powerful, yet not always unequivocal means of shaping memories.

Production & Filming Details

  • Director(s):
    • Federico Atehortúa Arteaga
  • Producer(s):
    • Jerónimo Atehortúa Arteaga … producer
  • Writer(s):
    • Sonia Ariza
    • Federico Atehortúa Arteaga
    • Jerónimo Atehortúa Arteaga
    • Verónica Balduzzi
  • Music:
    • Carlos Quebrada
  • Cinematography:
    • Alejandro Avelino … segment director of photography
    • Mauricio Reyes Serrano
  • Editor(s):
    • Federico Atehortúa Arteaga
  • Production:
    • Invasión Cine
  • Distributor(s):
    • Invasión Cine (Non-US, 2019)(theatrical)
  • Release Date: 26 January 2019 (International Film Festival Rotterdam, Netherlands).
  • Rating: Unknown.
  • Running Time: 85 minutes.
  • Country: Colombia.
  • Language: Spanish.

Video Link(s)

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