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A film by Simón Uribe

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A car and mini-bus meet on the highway connecting the cities of Mocoa and Pasto, in southern Colombia. The road, opened in 1944, is the main link between the two centers, but it’s not exactly a superhighway. In fact, it’s barely a highway at all. As the bus advances, the car backs up, seeking a place wide enough for the vehicles to pass each other.

For decades, Colombian authorities have talked of building a bypass, a road that will replace the one currently known as “the springboard of death.” With more than two dozen curves per mile, it may be the most dangerous stretch of road in the world. Shrines dot the route, marking the spots where so many have died. Landslides and washouts have killed dozens more.

SUSPENSION brilliantly captures some of the absurdities and contradictions that come with the decades-long effort to try and build a road through this part of the Amazon—an effort one engineer calls “political madness.”

Animated promotional videos of the route show gleaming bridges, elevated highways soaring over the rainforest, and crisp cars. Meanwhile, what little actual progress is made comes in the form of small crews, some hacking away with machetes.

We watch as one crew works on a bridge literally to nowhere—painstakingly spreading and raking concrete on a structure whose very construction is an exercise in futility. After they run out of money and abandon it, the bridge becomes a magnet for visitors taking selfies and enjoying the view as they lean on the gleaming yellow guardrails. Bikers roar through the “road closed” gates, pulling wheelies on the empty structure. The anti-erosion walls built to protect from landslides become a combination playground and climbing wall for the young people scaling them and sliding back down.

SUSPENSION is no polemic. Filled with stunning images, it places the infrastructure of the road at the center of a drama where humans are at the mercy of mudslides, torrential rains and volatile rivers. There are no heroes or villains here. No easy answers. What we are left with is a lingering sense of the intersection of effort and folly.

"Compelling and impressive; a fresh, unexpected approach." —Shane Smith, Director of Programming, Hot Docs International Documentary Festival

"The route [has] a reputation as one of the world’s most dangerous, as a single, unpaved lane snakes through the Andean-Amazon piedmont." —Ben Kenigsberg, The New York Times

Anthology Film Archives 2020
BAMPFA Berkely Art Museum Pacific Film Archive 2020
Cine Las Americas Film Festival 2020
Cartagena International Film Festival (FICCI) 2020
Open City Documentary Festival London 2020
Doc Montevideo Film Festival 2020
Docs Barcelona Film Festival 2020
International Documentary Festival Amsterdam (IDFA) 2019 

75 minutes / Color
Spanish / English subtitles
Release: 2020
Copyright: 2019

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Subject areas:
Architecture, Business, Ecology, Economic Sociology, Environment, Ethics, Geography, Latin America, Political Science, South America, Sustainability, Urban Planning & Design, Urban Studies

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