Niny, a 15-year-old girl from the Amazonian region of Caquetá in Colombia, was sick and tired of how her hometown and people were always portrayed in the media: as violent, ignorant, dreadful.
How do you solve a problem like representation? For Ana María Hermida, by taking action. For the past two summers, the 29-year-old Manhattanite has worked with kids in Caquetá teaching them how to tell their stories through film at the Escuela Audiovisual Infantil in Niny’s hometown of Belén de los Andaquíes.
A few months ago, Niny emailed her teacher voicing her frustration, and Ana María suggested she make a film to show her own version of Caquetá. Originally from Bogotá, Ana María graduated from SVA in 2009, and her thesis project short film El Elefante Rojo has taken her to festivals around the world. She runs her own production company, iAMredHam, and is currently working on her first film, La Luciérnaga, a love story set in Bogotá, involving two women and the death of a man.
Going back to Caquetá this past fall was different. “It was an act of solidarity, of telling Niny ‘You’re not alone, let’s do something creative about it,’” says Ana Maria. “She’s right. Yes, there are kidnappings. But it’s also one of the most beautiful regions of Colombia. People are kind and hard working.” With the help of the non-profit Caring for Colombia, she was able to return to Belén de los Andaquíes to work with Niny and her friend Diana and the result is this powerful short, La Cara Bonita (Caquetá), told from an unlikely and much-needed point of view.