Sergio Cabrera

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Film (comedy, commercial film, feature film)
America, South
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May 15, 2003
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Sergio Cabrera
Sergio Cabrera


Change of weapons: From kalaschnikov to comedy

The best known fact about Sergio Cabrera, who was born in Medellin in Columbia in 1950, is his early support of the guerrillas. The son of Spanish actors, he studied film in London then made a name for himself as the director and producer of more than 500 commercials and as the script-writer and producer of more than 30 short films and 5 feature films. Typical of his feature films are the plots, characters and situations which at first glance are amusing but then take the sympathies of viewers in a definite, often unexpected direction.
How many folk have had so eventful a life as Sergio Cabrera? Born in 1950 in Medellin in Columbia as the son of Spanish immigrants, he grew up in China then went back and joined guerrillas in Columbia. Finally the idea of directing films got such a hold of him that he went to film-school in London. Since then he has become a director of commercials, written film-scripts and directed short and feature films.
Cabrera´s first feature-film, called Alejandro de Humboldt en Colombia (or Diario de viaje), appeared in 1978, and his second one, Elementos para una actiareia, eight years later. All Cabrera´s films are montages of short incidents, with a collection of characters and situations. A good example of this is the film Técnicas de duelo: Una cuestión de honor" (1988). A teacher and a butcher in a small town in the Andes decide to duel, since they have both fallen in love with the same woman. Everyone in the town knows about the impending duel except Miriam herself. But it is a matter of more than gain or loss, life or death, since even the mayor of the town is interested in manipulating the duel for political reasons.

Estrategia del caracul / The snail´s Strategy (1994) became extremely popular in Spanish-speaking lands, and in the first month after release had more viewers than Steven Spielberg´s Jurassic Park . In Madrid it became a cult film and was shown to full houses for months on end. The critics all agreed that the film was convincing in its optimism, freshness and vitality, the latter being due to its running gags and fantastic inventiveness as regards scenes. The comedy is about a community of tenants who think up a crafty plan to stop their landlord throwing them out. In this bitter satire, colourful and realistic tenants fight against parvenus and arbitrary authorities, as do countless residents of Bogota in real life.

Águilas no cazan moscas (1994) is likewise a comedy and is made up of two parts, insofar as Cabrera put old film sequences from Técnicas de duelo together with new takes. For the new film, the actors who had taken part as children in 1988 now took part as youths. Cabrera cut the film in such a way that the story stayed the same, while old takes alternated with new ones. The result was interesting.

His fourth feature film, Ilona llega con la lluvia (1996) was filmed in Havana on Cuba, as this is the only city in Latin America with architecture still dating from the 50s. Based on a tale from the Columbian writer Alvaro Mutis, the film describes three friends who try to fulfil a dream of owning a boat and sailing round the American continent. The film is about friendship and the wish to be a hero, and its appeal is due largely to its lightness and joy, which change gradually into sadness and lead to an unexpected tragedy.

Cabrera´s latest film, Golpe de estadio (1998), is lighter in style than in content. Each of the protagonists stands for a band fighting in the civil war, and Cabrera uses this constellation to appeal for peace.

Events at the HKW:
Sunday, 2nd August, 1992
Neuer Film Lateinamerikas (New Latin American Films)
Columbia / Venezuela
Tecnicas de duelos / Details of a Duel
Organiser: House of World Cultures
Author: Gabriele Gillner


Born in 1950 in Medellin in Columbia as the son of Spanish immigrants, Sergio Cabrera spent ten years in Columbia before moving with his parents to China. In 1968 he came back to Columbia and joined the guerrilla organisation EPL ("Ejercito Popular de Liberacion"). After four years of living in the mountains with the guerrillas he moved to London, where he studied film-making at the London Technical School. Since then he has made a name for himself as a director, script-writer and producer. His films have received many awards, as for instance at the film festivals in Biarritz, New York, Gramado, San Juan, Taschkent, Cartagena and Bogota. He has also received 15 national Simon Bolivar awards.


Cuéntame como pasó

Film / TV,
2005, 2006, 2007

Perder es cuestión de método

Film / TV,

Ciudadano Escobar

Film / TV,

Severo Ochoa. La conquista de un Nobel

Film / TV,
TV Series

Golpe de Estadio

Film / TV,
English Version: Time Out (1999)

Ilona Llega Con La Lluvia / Ilona arrives with the Rain

Film / TV,


Film / TV,
TV Series

La Estrategia del caracol /The snail´s strategy

Film / TV,

Águilas no cazan moscas / Eagles don´t hunt Flies

Film / TV,


Film / TV,
TV Series

Técnicas de duelo: Una cuestión de honor / Details of a Duel

Film / TV,

Elementos para una acuarela

Film / TV,

Alejandro de Humboldt en Colombia / Diario de viaje 1978 (Colombia)

Film / TV,