Valentina Giraldo Sánchez

Film Critic, Colombia

I write because I like sowing. I think that film criticism is like agriculture: we constantly plough the land of the image. Writing about movies is like preparing the soil which will be fertilized by thoughts. We open the words, put them together, prepare them for a crop. I started cultivating words, which I later sent to my friends in epistles. I write because, while I do it, I relive the geographies of the women before me, I retrace the hands of my mother and my grandmothers. All of them were gardeners. I started living in the land of the cinema when I was eighteen; since then, I like to say that I have cultivated words in different magazines and newspapers. I have also participated in some workshops in different countries across the equator. I currently run a festival (which is another way of saying that I grow a garden together with many people).

I think that perhaps it is easier for me to talk about film criticism and what I write through a film, a song and a poem. As if they were the geological layers of the earth, these three points are joined by memories and concerns about film criticism. They are a geology of memory.

  1. A film: No Intenso Agora / João Moreira Salles.

The first time I saw this movie was before I went to film school. I place it in this geology of memory because I believe that this film brings together a fascinating element of the work of film critics:  history is always happening, it is there to be constructed. What we write and the images we make are the intense now.

  1. A song: Diez décimas de saludo al pueblo Argentino / Bituin.

I am Colombian. North from where I was born is the Darién jungle; to the South is the Amazon jungle. It is very important for me to talk about the territory from which I write. I believe that from this point on I can cross the borders to make our words a common fabric. This song, written by Alfredo Zitarrosa, says at the end “I can’t tell you about my people and their pains, I only came to give their heart with my song”. Currently, from Latitude North: 4° 35’56” and Longitude West of Greenwich: 74°04’51” (which is where I am) I know that film criticism is being explored by young viewers who offer a whole host of new possibilities, offering a heart with a new song.

  1. A poem: Escribir / Chantal Maillard.

I think that in these times it is urgent to make our writing a cry and a sigh. Maillard talks about the need for writing as condescension and as rebellion, as a cry torn from a body that exerts force on life through the word. I insist that criticism is the space to rethink the dynamics of a capitalist industrial process such as the cinema. Writing bears the weight of the world and cuts through it with the alphabet.

I hope this experience will reimagine the boundaries of our craft of writing about film. That we can share our experiences and meet, someday, in a movie theater. I also hope that we can explore different formats of creation and expand our views from our own territorial experiences. To inhabit the cultivation of cinema and to sow together new frontiers of writing.
(Written for the Berlinale Talent Press of 2021)