Institute History

  • 2019 Sundance Film Festival


On a windy night in the Colombian desert, a young Wayúu woman named Doris sleeps in her hammock and has a dream that she reunites with a deceased cousin. When she awakens and shares the encounter with her grandmother, they agree that her vision suggests the beginning of an ancient ritual, one central to their culture’s relationship with death, dreams, and memory. According to custom, Doris must travel to her cousin’s grave and exhume the body from its coffin. Only after she cleanses her cousin’s bones will the physical and spiritual barriers of death crumble.

Lapü documents Doris’s journey into the realm of death, layering her ritual with hypnotic visual and sonic abstraction. Mirroring the Wayúu belief that the deceased coexist with the living, filmmakers Juan Pablo Polanco and César Alejandro Jaimes resurrect the world of the dead so that it lives side by side with Doris as she embarks on her “second burial.” The result is a haunting, mysterious vision that blurs Western concepts of loss and time and flips the conventional approach to documentary storytelling on its head.

— H.V.

Screening Details

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