Amid its growing visibility in the transnational sphere, Colombian cinema of the first decades of the twenty-first century has increasingly turned to the countryside to narrate untold stories about rural life, nature, tourism, and violent conflict. These audiovisual mappings of rural spaces, lives, and journeys emerge at a time of major historical changes shaping the Colombian countryside. Among these are the intensification of armed conflict and the militarization of many rural areas at the turn of the twentieth century, massive internal displacements and peasant struggles for land ownership, territorial reconfigurations produced by the expansion of extractive economies, and, more recently, processes of transitional justice and concomitant postconflict discourses, as well as official tourism and investment campaigns that promote rural regions for travel and development. In this context, a number of films that showcase the journeys of characters and cameras across rural space engage with and, in certain cases, dismantle, the logics of tourism and war that are central to the visual production of landscape in contemporary times, underscoring the complex relationships between the nation and what have been historically considered its “natural frontiers.”
Seldom featured in earlier Colombian films, the rising number of fiction and documentary films focusing on life in rural regions and natural frontiers also emerge in the context of the implementation of Colombia's new legal framework for the production and the promotion of film passed in 2003 that has successfully improved the quality, diversity, and number of films produced in the country. Films such as Los viajes del viento (2009), El vuelco del cangrejo (2009), Los colores de la montaña (2010), Apaporis, en busca del río (2010), Chocó (2012), Corta (2012), Jardín de amapolas (2012), La sirga (2013), Tierra en la lengua (2014), La tierra y la sombra (2015), Alias María (2015), El abrazo de la serpiente (2015), and Oscuro animal (2016) have circulated in important international festivals worldwide. They signal a stark departure from the fixation that many Colombian filmmakers have had with urban topographies and drug-related violence in urban areas during the 1990s and the beginning of the twenty-first century.