Facets Cinémathèque

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May 28–June 2, 2016

Chicago Encore

Embrace of the Serpent
(El abrazo de la serpiente)

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Film still: Embrace of the Serpent Film still: Embrace of the Serpent Film still: Embrace of the Serpent Film still: Embrace of the Serpent
Directors' Fortnight
Cannes Film Fest
Alfred P. Sloan Prize
Sundance Film Fest
Best Foreign Film
Academy Awards
"Majestic, spellbinding"
  —New York Times
"At once blistering and poetic, not just an ethnographic study but also a striking act of cinematic witness"
"Fanatically detailed and starkly visionary"
  —New Yorker
"Beautiful, strange, disturbing... a deep dive into another place and time as well as a different, non-Western way of experiencing reality"
  —Los Angeles Times
"A legitimate stunner... beautiful and ferocious, calm and torrential, a plunge into the ol' heart of darkness and then some organ darker still"
  —Village Voice
"The majesty of nature is this film's true star, and Guerra captures the glory of every leaf and every inch of sky"
"Bewitchingly strange, and as enveloping as the Amazon jungle"
Recommended "Stunning"
  —Chicago Reader
"Original in concept, remarkable in execution, and filled with characters whose motivations and personalities are developed with clarity and humor"

In 1909, Karamakate, a reclusive shaman in the Amazon, is sought out by sick German scientist Theodor Koch-Grünberg, seeking a cure for his condition. Resentful yet curious of the white man's knowledge of his lost tribe, Karamakate agrees to lead him to the rare, sacred yakruna plant that can heal him. The men navigate the serpentine river and uncover secrets of the jungle surrounded by the impending savagery of colonialism. Forty years later, a similar scene unfolds when an American, basing his expedition on Koch-Grünberg's published diary, encounters Karamakate and unknowingly asks him to fulfill this unfinished mission.

Remarkably merging past and present, Embrace of the Serpent enlightens us through the dialogue generated between two tribes divided by their great cultural distance. With spellbinding black-and-white cinematography, and hovering camera used to heighten the lure and vibrations of the Amazon, filmmaker Ciro Guerra has ventured deep to create a masterpiece of cosmic dimensions that invokes the memory of Earth's forgotten civilizations.

Directed by Ciro Guerra, 2015, Colombia/ Argentina/Venezuela, 125 mins. In English, Cubeo, Wanano, Tikuna, Huitoto, Okaina, Latin, Catalan, Spanish, Portuguese and German with English subtitles.


  • Sat., May 28 at 6 & 8:15 pm
  • Sun., May 29 at 3:45 & 6 pm
  • Mon.–Thurs., May 30–June 2 at 7:30 pm
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$10 general admission

$5 for Facets Members

The Facets Cinémathèque is located at 1517 W. Fullerton Ave. in Chicago. Call the Cinémathèque Hotline at 773.281.4114 for the latest schedule, showtimes and updates.

For all Cinémathèque inquiries, contact Charles Coleman at 773.281.9075 or

  • John D. & Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation
  • Artworks: National Endowment for the Arts
  • Academy of Motion Picture Arts & Sciences
  • Comer Family Foundation
  • Bloomberg Philanthropies
  • Alphawood Foundation
  • Polk Bros. Foundation