Colombia’s official entry for the Best International Feature category at the 96th Academy Awards®, UN VARÓN, is a sensitive and subtle exploration of Latin American masculinity and gender dynamics against the backdrop of Bogota’s streets; a theatrical release is set on December 8 in New York City and will have additional screenings in Los Angeles, San Francisco, and Washington, D.C. (TBA)

By Oliver Carnay

Columbian up-and-coming writer-director Fabián Hernández’s film “UN VARÓN” (A Male) is a captivating and poignant drama, selected as Colombia’s official submission for the 96th Oscar Awards®

Having celebrated its world premiere at Cannes Directors’ Fortnight, and winner of numerous awards including Best Film and Best Actor at the Lima Film Festival and the Libertés Chéries Award at the Paris Gay and Lesbian Film Festival, Un varón will have a one-week run to at Cinema Village in New York City starting Friday, December 8, with additional screenings scheduled for Los AngelesSan Francisco, and Washington DC (TBA).

The story centers around Carlos, a young man who lives in a youth shelter in the heart of Bógota, seeking respite from the harshness of life. As Christmas approaches, Carlos longs to spend the day with his mother and sister, who are ensnared in the throes of urban turmoil. As he leaves the shelter, Carlos is confronted with the unyielding milieu of the streets in his neighborhood, where the law of the strongest, the alpha ‘macho’, rules. 

Carlos navigates the streets of Bógota under the protection of Freddy, for whom he sells drugs—but when Carlos cannot live up to Freddy’s macho expectations, he must make a choice between his survival and adhering to societal constructs of masculinity.

Dylan Felipe Ramirez Espitia’s breakthrough performance as Carlos is a heart touching portrayal of gangland coming-of-age cinema, defying conventional male archetypes. Set against the contemporary backdrop of Bogota’s post-pandemic socio-economic turmoil, the film unravels a deeply personal narrative echoing the struggles of countless youths navigating the dire consequences of impoverishment and endemic violence. In an hour and a half, Un varón promises a story of resilience, bereft of fairytale endings.

The visually arresting cinematography by Colombian talent Sofía Oggioni unequivocally showcases a new generation of Colombian filmmakers adept at sensitively depicting violence. Oggioni’s tight focus on Ramirez encapsulates the internal turmoil as he grapples with unattainable ideas of masculinity—while struggling to survive and reunite with his mother.

The New York theatrical run of Un varón is co-presented by The Colombian Film Festival of New York, courtesy of the Consulate General of Colombia in New York.