• Academy Award®

    Colombia's submission for Best Foreign Language Film
  • BFI London Film Festival

    Best Film - Honourable Mention
  • Fenix Film Awards

    Best Film, Actress, Music
  • Havana Film Festival

    Best Film
  • Cannes Film Festival

  • Chicago International Film Festival

    Best Art Direction, Cinematography
  • Lima Latin American Film Festival

    Best Director
  • Cairo International Film Festival

    Winner International, Competition
  • Palm Springs International Film Festival

Wayuu, English, and Spanish with English subtitles

With Carmiña Martínez, José Acosta, Natalia Reyes, Jhon Narváez, Greider Meza, José Vicente Cote, Juan Bautista Martínez


Cristina Gallego and Ciro Guerra, the creative team behind Oscar®-nominated Embrace of the Serpent (also available for your SFC festival), return with this inspired mob epic for the ages — a completely fresh take on the origins of the Colombian drug trade, far from Narcos and Escobar, as told through the story of an indigenous Wayúu family.

In the 1970s, as an American-fueled marijuana boom hits Colombia, farmers quickly turn into seasoned businessmen starting a narco-trafficking era known as “la Bonanza Marimbera.”

In the Guajira desert, one indigenous Wayúu clan takes a leading role. Guided by matriarch Ursula Pushaina, the “Birds of Passage”—drug runners—face the constant risk of violence and incarceration from the outsiders in Northern Colombia. The cultural differences between the native population and the newcomers begin a brutal war that threatens to destroy the Wayúu way of life. As greed, passion, and honor blend together over the decades, the family’s unity, their lives, and their ancestral traditions are all put at stake.

A true story, the visually striking Birds of Passage is as much a thriller as it is an anthropological study on the consequences of outside influences to indigenous traditions.


Birds of Passage conveys a sense of mystery in its depiction of native custom and belief, while at the same time using familiar tropes from gangster melodrama to make the unusual milieu accesible. The result is a distinctive, compelling drama. Highly Recommended.” – F. Swietek, Video Librarian

“NYT Critic's Pick. It’s about how the world changes, about how individual actions and the forces of fate work in concert to bring glory and ruin to a hero and his family...[It's] like nothing I’ve ever seen before.” – A.O. Scott, The New York Times

“Imagine "The Godfather" made by dazzling Latin American directors who combine bravura filmmaking with political awareness and a probing social conscience.” – Kenneth Turan, Los Angeles Times

“Extraordinary and unique.”The Guardian

“You’ve never seen one [South American drug story] like Birds of Passage, a visually stunning and often surprising true story that charts the rise of the Colombian drug business back before Escobar from its unexpected roots, among an indigenous clan in way over their heads. Matching its artistic vision in anthropological value, this fresh take on a familiar genre — told from the point of view of the country’s Wayuu people — marks an ambitious follow up to the Oscar-nominated Embrace of the Serpent for helmer Ciro Guerra and his wife, producer Cristina Gallego.” – Peter Debruge, Variety

“Another fascinating tone poem about Colombia’s fractured identity...Set against an atmosphere of hissing insects, whooshing wind, wandering storks and braying goats, Birds of Passage remains fixated on the way this rustic existence seems at odds with the advancing threats of capitalist desire. "Death is all around us," Rapayert says, and later concludes: “We’re already dead.” To that end, Birds of Passage represents a seance for a country still working through the ghosts of the past.” – Eric Kohn, IndieWire

“A MASTERPIECE! An absolutely extraordinary film.”The Playlist

Birds of Passage is a standout in the sprawling drug-empire genre, showing the effects of the trade on locals and refusing to romanticize the family at its center.” – Sara Stewart, New York Post

“Richly textured images both unfold the action in tense detail and enmesh it in its social context, rescuing cultural memory from tragic devastation.” – Richard Brody, New Yorker

“Three viewings in, I'm still flabbergasted by the scope and detail of this movie...and in awe of the way its unique cover version of a crime-doesn't-pay story totally pays off.” – David Fear, Rolling Stone

Birds of Passage conveys a sense of mystery in its depiction of native custom and belief, while at the same time using familiar tropes from gangster melodrama to make the unusual milieu accessible. The result is a distinctive, compelling drama. Highly recommended.” – F. Swietek, Video Librarian

About the Directors
Ciro Guerra was born on Río de Oro (Cesar, Colombia) in 1981 and studied film and television at the National University of Colombia. At the age of 21, after directing four multi-award-winning short films, he wrote and directed La sombra del caminante (The Wandering Shadow), his feature directorial debut, which won awards at the San Sebastian, Toulouse, Mar de Plata, Trieste, Havana, Quito, Cartagena, Santiago, and Warsaw film festivals, and was selected for 60 more, including Tribeca, Locarno, Seoul, Pesaro, Seattle, Hamburg, Kolkata, Rio de Janeiro, Istanbul, and Guadalajara.

His second feature film, Los viajes del viento (The Wind’s Journeys), was part of the Official Selection – Un Certain Regard of the Cannes Film Festival in 2009. It was released in 17 countries and selected by 90 festivals, including Toronto, Rotterdam, San Sebastián, Hong Kong, Jerusalem, and London, receiving different awards in Cannes, Santa Bárbara, Málaga, Santiago, Bogotá, and Cartagena. It was recently selected in a national critic’s poll as one of the 10 most important Colombian films.

All of Guerra’s feature films to date have been chosen to represent Colombia in the Academy Awards®.

Isabel Cristina Gallego Lozano was born in Bogotá in 1978. She graduated from the School of Film & TV of the National University of Colombia in 2003, and in Advertising & Marketing at the Politecnico Grancolombiano in 1999. Between 2003 and 2007 she worked as a producer of educational and cultural television at the National University of Colombia. In 1998, together with Ciro Guerra, she founded Ciudad Lunar, a company that produced the acclaimed feature films Wandering Shadows (2004), The Wind Journeys (2009), and Embrace of the Serpent (2015), all directed by Ciro Guerra.