Our Lady of the Assassins

Director: Barbet Schroeder
Screenwriters: Fernando Vallejo

Institute History

  • 2001 Sundance Film Festival


Directed by Academy Award (TM) nominee Barbet Schroeder, Our Lady of the Assassins tells a powerful story of a city in ruins and one man's desperate journey to make sense of his life. The semiautobiographical tale by Fernando Vallejo centers around the writer's (Gérman Jaramillo) return to his birthplace of Medellin, Colombia, which four decades later has degenerated into the drug capital of the world—dominated by assaults, kidnapping, and murder. Though he has come to die, he instead begins a relationship with Alexis Anderson Ballesteros) a violent young man caught in the continuous gang warfare that touches every life in Medellin. Though they could not be more different, Fernando and Alexis learn from the other's experience as they negotiate the violent streets, discovering through the horror the essential richness of life itself.

With this screenplay by Fernando Vallejo, adapted from his novel, director Barbet Schroeder also returns to his past after making films for 15 years in the United States. Having grown up in Columbia, Schroeder knows too well the struggle to make a film under dangerous conditions, yet authenticity was essential for this film. What is most striking about Our Lady of the Assassins is the absence of shock value. The violence, the homosexuality, the difference in age between the two lovers are all portrayed naturally and without judgment. Schroeder cast actors from the region; Jaramillo is a consummate stage actor, and Ballesteros was recruited from the streets, where he sold incense. The chemistry between them is mesmerizing.

— John Cooper

Screening Details

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