Director Felipe Holguín Caro captures the heart of a remote Colombian community in the rousingly joyous La Suprema.
Set in 2001, Laureana (Elizabeth Martinez) is a strong-willed teenager in her tiny village of La Suprema. Without electricity, the region feels lost to time, so far from the beach and tourist trail you won’t find it on any map. While her grandmother wishes for Laureana to find a husband – something she’ll never accomplish if she doesn’t want to wear dresses – the teen dreams of becoming a boxer just like her estranged uncle.
When she reads in a newspaper that her uncle is mere days away from fighting in a championship boxing match in Venezuela, Laureana rallies the whole town together in anticipation of the big event. There are just a few problems: without electricity, the village doesn’t have a television or the money to buy one. She enlists Efrain (Antonio Jiménez), the local boxing trainer who discovered her uncle, to help her find a TV in time for the fight. With the odds stacked against La Suprema, the tiny community bands together to be part of the moment that might actually put them on the map for good.
La Suprema is about much more than boxing. The Afro-Colombian community is one full of determined characters who don’t want their history and existence erased. Imbued with humour throughout, the film is a celebration of the ordinary, whether it’s playing dominos with friends or washing dishes in the river. Their lives are not lesser because they don’t have electricity, but the community is more in tune with one another because of what they are able to seek in one another. The villagers have dealt with being pushed aside by the government, wholly abandoned and forgotten because they are Black. The few who have left La Suprema don’t return, further isolating the village from the rest of the world.
La Suprema is Caro’s narrative debut feature. Coming from the world of documentary shorts and features, he seems to know how to make the setting come alive. La Suprema the town is as much a character as the actors in the film and under Caro’s guidance, he gives it loving attention where it is easy to see why its residents are so attached to it despite what it may appear to lack to the outside world.
Caro fills his film with colorful characters and a well-rounded ensemble. Martinez is endearing as the spirited Laureana, driving much of the joy – and attitude – of La Suprema. She is the unifier of the community as she attempts to forge her own path in life. She is a feisty teenage girl, ready for a friendly spar with two of the village’s teenage boys, whose own antics offer up more than a few laughs.
Clocking in at 83 minutes, the pacing is brisk, filling the story with energy from start to finish. A warm-hearted feel-good film, La Suprema is sure to bring a smile to the audience’s faces.
La Suprema had its World Premiere at TIFF 2023. Head here for more coverage from this year’s festival.