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Get acquainted with the vibrant Colombian culture in "Encanto"

Get acquainted with the vibrant Colombian culture in "Encanto"

Ambassador of the Republic of Colombia to Indonesia Juan Camilo Valencia Gonzalez during the special screening event of "Encanto" movie in Jakarta on Wednesday (Nov 24, 2021). ANTARA/Nabil Ihsan.

Women in beautiful and brightly colored folk costumes and young men in tricolored masks of yellow, blue, and red congregate in front of a cinema door hall while awaiting the door to open and admit them in.

They greeted each other with open arms, exchanging hugs and kisses, as they finally met again after a long time. Passionately telling stories to friends, they only stop to greet other friends and switch their chatting partners.

It turns out that the brightly colored attire were of a traditional Colombian costume, and the tricolored mask worn by them mirrored the Colombian national flag. The Colombians, who are currently living in Indonesia, utilized the time when they could meet their compatriots to express their joy and pride for the country that they had left since long.

The Embassy of the Republic of Colombia for Indonesia had organized a special "Encanto" movie screening event at a cinema in South Jakarta on Wednesday (November 24). Around a hundred embassy staff and relatives, Colombian expatriates in Indonesia, and other invitees flocked to the cinema hall to watch the movie.

Encanto, the newest cartoon animation movie developed by Walt Disney Animation Studios, was released to Indonesian viewers on November 24, at the same theatrical release date as the United States and the United Kingdom.

The movie talks about the Madrigal family that lives in a magical house – styled in a traditional Colombian dwelling style – characterized as keen to help their neighbors by the use of magical powers gifted to the members.

From the three Madrigal family generations living in the house, only Mirabel -- the main character of the movie -- has no magical power. This was despite her mother Julieta having the magical power to heal others through food, her older sisters Isabela possessing the power to make flowers bloom anywhere, and Luisa, who is gifted with superhuman strength.

As family members continue to request her to step aside to prevent incidents that might embarrass the family, Mirabel persists in her efforts to help her family with all the might she could exert, with varied results.

The plot takes a turn when the sacred candle secured by abuela Alma the grandmother – that holds the magical power once lit – is loomed by a threat. It is revealed then that Mirabel is the one holding the key to saving the candle and the family.

Get to know the diverse Colombian culture

Before the movie screening, Ambassador of Colombia to Indonesia Juan Camilo Valencia Gonzales proudly introduced the Colombian-inspired movie to the audience.

"We are glad to share the encanto, or the charm, of Colombia with our friends in Indonesia," the ambassador noted in his opening remarks before the movie screening.

The movie exhibited various cultural references about Colombia, such as flowers, animals, natural and cultural diversity, and the warmth of the Colombian people, a fact that made the ambassador, by pointing out his Colombian heritage, proud.

"The magic of Colombia lies in the people, the music, and our dances. We are very happy for the movie, and we hope Indonesian audiences would enjoy the movie," Gonzales remarked.

The village where the Madrigal family live is surrounded by tall mountains that protect the place from external threats. The mountains are emblematic of the Cocora Valley, the natural landscape in the Western Colombian Andes mountain range known for its beauty and the wax palm, considered as one of the national symbols of Colombia.

The diversity of flowers in Colombia is depicted by the magical power of Isabela that could make any flower she desired magically appear. Colombia, home to more than 1,400 types of flowers, with the orchid being the national flower, is the world’s second-largest flower exporter.

The movie depicts various endemic animals from Colombia that appeared after Antonio – Mirabel’s cousin – used his newly gained ability to understand animal interactions and invite them to play in their family house. Among animals depicted in the movie are jaguars, capybaras, tapirs, toucans, and hummingbirds.

Yellow butterflies, which played a vital role as the symbol of magical power in the movie, are the emblem of the Colombian magical realism literature genre often associated with works of Nobel Prize for Literature laureate Gabriel Garcia Marquez.

The movie characters' warmheartedness and solidarity – shown by the Madrigal family that is keen to help villagers and exhibit cordiality while hosting village parties – are also reflective of the positive traits of the Colombian people that leaves a good first impression after only minutes of interacting with them before the movie screening.

Other unique crafts that are also introduced in the movie are a flat slip-on shoe called alpargatas or espadrilles; a traditional Colombian garment and symbol of the Andean region called ruana; and accordion, associated with traditional fairs and festivals in Colombia.

Spreading positive messages

The ambassador expressed hope that Indonesians would enjoy the new and positive perspective on Colombia after watching the "Encanto" movie, something that other films or entertainment shows that Indonesians often consume seldom offer.

The “Encanto” movie is expected to dispel negative images of Colombia often held by Indonesians after viewing other entertainment shows that portrayed it as an unsafe country with a dark historical past, he noted.

"This movie is important for Colombia, as it depicted the positive image of Colombia that we seldom see in other entertainment shows. The movie also depicted the magical realism of Colombia,” Gonzales told ANTARA after the end of the movie's screening.

The ambassador lamented that several entertainment shows continue to reuse the negative image template while depicting Colombia despite the viewers not always buying the image depicted in the movie. Hence, he lauded “Encanto” filmmakers that have shown Colombia in a positive light.

"We laud the filmmakers that portray the country in a positive light and sell a positive image about Colombia to the viewers instead of exploiting the negative stories," Gonzales remarked.

He also highlighted the happy ending that the Madrigal family enjoyed after overcoming the issue that almost annihilate the family as reflective of Colombians’ successful efforts to recover from the painful bloody conflicts in the past to face a brighter future and develop the country in unity and brotherhood.

"We can see how the movie depicted family unity as something that resolves the great conflict that they face, as unity will always lead to a better future," the ambassador remarked.

In a span of only two hours, a movie could introduce a whole new world and cultures, teach the viewers about different cultures, and promote tolerance towards different nations. Positive images of a nation depicted in the story will surely leave a profound impression on the viewers and dispel any prejudice that they earlier harbored.  

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