A Black environmental activist makes Colombian history in this documentary
Juan Mejía Botero’s latest documentary, Igualada, premiered at Sundance last week. The film follows the historic campaign of Francia Márquez Mina for president of Colombia. A Black woman from a small mining village in rural Colombia, Márquez is a long shot for national office. She is called by others – and claims the term herself – “igualada,” which the open of the film defines as a derogatory term, used towards someone “who acts as if they deserve rights/privileges that supposedly don’t correspond to them.”
An award-winning environmental activist, Márquez is shown on the campaign trail from her initial announcement in 2021 through the 2022 national election. We see the formation of her movement, Soy Porque Somos (I am because we are), and the partnerships she strikes with other left-wing groups to keep her candidacy alive. Thousands of signatures are needed to get her on the ballot in the first place. The danger she faces for her outspoken nature and activism is palpable. The filmmakers emphasize this by including a slideshow of other Colombian activists killed by paramilitary forces/previous administrations in recent years. There are tears as Márquez sends her son out of the country to keep him from harm.
Márquez is a compelling figure, on the campaign trail and off. It’s inspiring to see the growth and momentum of her campaign. Unfortunately, the film itself lacks similar momentum; the pacing can be clunky at times. Editing cuts too often to a previous documentary (from 2009-2010) for footage, halting the flow of the main narrative.
However, I appreciate the style in which the documentary incorporates music as protest. While at campaign stops or marching in the streets, women sing songs of protest. Songs from La Muchacha pepper the film, underscoring the activist stance and unique background of this candidate.
Igualada seems an honest depiction of this campaign, as disorganized as it is. When the candidate faces racism and sexism online and at in-person events, Márquez speaks up about it and against it. She’s unafraid to stand up for what she believes in and hopes to represent marginalize voices in her country. This makes Botero’s film a moving portrait of the candidate and her historic run for office.