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Narcos billboard in Mexico, photo by Johanna - Alternatives to Narcos - Best Colombian Movies - Medellin Guru
Narcos was ambitious and popular but has a number of problems. There are some good alternatives to Narcos and we look at 13 of the best Colombian movies and series.

Alternatives to Narcos: 13 Best Colombian Movies and Series

Netflix’s Narcos is an ambitious and popular series about Pablo Escobar and the cocaine trade in Colombia but it has a number of problems. But there are some good alternatives to Narcos and we look at 13 of the best Colombian movies and series.

I personally am not a very big fan of the Narcos series. And I have talked to a number of Colombians over the past few years that dislike the series as they have a number of problems with Narcos, which I understand. There are several problems with Narcos that have been widely reported. And here are four of the top problems I have heard from Colombians that I agree with.

  1. Narcos perpetuates Colombian stereotypes. The Colombians in Narcos all seem to be criminals, corrupt police officers or sexy women trying to get ahead. The show doesn’t have everyday Colombians or depict how they were impacted by the drug violence. Narcos obviously did this to create interest and drama. But several Colombians I have talked to feel that foreigners take these stereotypes literally.
  2. Some of the accents in Narcos are terrible. For example, Escobar is played by Brazilian actor Wagner Moura with a thick Brazilian accent. And Escobar’s wife is played by Mexican actress Paulina Gaitán with a thick Mexican accent. This is a big deal for Colombians. Colombia has some good actors, so why weren’t Colombians cast for key roles in this production?
  3. Medellín and Colombia have moved on. It’s over two decades since Pablo Escobar’s death and Medellín is a completely transformed city and Colombia is a different country. In 2013, Medellín was even named the most innovative city in the world by a competition organized by non-profit Urban Land Institute and sponsored by Citi and the Wall Street Journal. All that progress was simply ignored in Narcos and not even mentioned. When Narcos came out, many people around the world were led to believe the Medellín on the show was still an accurate image. But Medellín has changed completely.
  4. Narcos is the United States’ viewpoint of another country’s history. Narcos is told from the point of view of Steve Murphy, a DEA agent on a mission to find and take down Escobar. And Narcos presents an image that Escobar and his cartel were seemingly running Colombia, which was simply not true. Colombia was also dealing with paramilitaries, guerrillas, the Cali cartel and much more. And the Americanized Narcos version mixes truth with fiction to keep viewers hooked.

Note the above photo is a Netflix Narcos billboard in Mexico, photo by Johanna.

It turns out that Colombia has a number of good movies, documentaries and series that in my opinion are better than Narcos. In addition, one of the best ways to learn about a new country is to watch locally made films and series. I started to do this when I first started to live in Medellín.

So, over the past seven years while living in Medellín, I have seen many Colombian movies, documentaries and series. And the following list is 13 of the best Colombian movies, series and documentaries I have seen (based on my opinion and with input from some friends).

Note this list is in no particular order and starts with three series and then several movies and finally a couple of documentaries. Also many of these movies can be found on Amazon and on Netflix.

1. Best Colombian Series: Pablo Escobar: Boss of Evil (Pablo Escobar: El Patron Del Mar) – 2012

From May 28 to November 1, 2012, Caracol TV aired Escobar: El Patron del Mal on weeknights at 9:30 pm. This series is a superb accounting of the rise and fall of Pablo Escobar, who is most likely the most lethal criminal ever to live.

This is a long series with 74 episodes. But it’s difficult to stop watching once you start. One Medellin Guru reader even said “This version of Escobar’s infamy is the gold standard.” And I completely agree with this. Andrés Parra, the Colombian actor who is cast as Escobar is much better and believable than the Brazilian actor Wagner Moura in Narcos.

The El Patron del Mal series follows Escobar’s rise to power, as well as his downfall. Furthermore, this series was even created by two people whose families were directly affected by his violence: Camilo Cano and Juana Uribe.

Camilo Cano is a journalist and son of Guillermo Cano, the editor and publisher of the El Espectador newspaper based in Bogota. Guillermo was murdered by Escobar’s men due to his editorials against Escobar and the cartel. And Juana Uribe, was Vice President of Caracol TV and is the daughter of Maruja Pachon. Maruja was kidnapped on Escobar’s orders, and held hostage for six months as Escobar fought to have Colombia’s Constitution amended to disallow Colombians from being extradited to the U.S.

I found the first part of El Patron del Mal to be the most interesting, when you see Escobar in his early years. The later parts are filled with so much violence and death, it becomes depressing. I reluctantly visited Pablo Escobar’s grave earlier this year for the first time in over seven years.

You can find El Patron del Mal on Caracoltv and Netflix.  And on Amazon are found Pablo Escobar: El Patron Del Mal – Part 1, Pablo Escobar: El Patron Del Mal – Part 2 and Pablo Escobar: El Patron Del Mal Parte 3.

2. Best Colombian Series: The Cartel of Snitches (El Cartel de los Sapos) – 2008

Cartel de los Sapos: Primera Parte and Cartel-Season 2 Pt 2: Guerra Total is a popular Colombian television series that first aired in 2008 and is also known as El Cartel. The series is based on the 2008 novel by the same name by Andrés López López, alias Florecita (“Little Flower”). López was a former drug dealer who wrote the fictionalized account of his experiences in the Cali Cartel.

The book upon which the TV series is based also inspired the film El Cartel de los Sapos released in 2011. Note there are two seasons to the El Cartel series with a total of 107 episodes. But this lengthy series about the Cali Cartel can be addicting once you start watching it.

3. Best Colombian Series: Rosario Tijeras – 2010

Rosario Tijeras : Coleccion de 10DVDs BOXSET Imported is a Colombian story about a young girl from a poor barrio in Medellín who turns into a hired killer.

The original novel this was based on was made into both a movie (in 2005) and a more popular and addictive telenovela series on television. This series also sparked a debate in Colombia about just how much of the dark reality of shady drug bosses and women assassins should be broadcast into living rooms night after night. The big complaint is that such narco-soaps glamorize the life of criminals and incite young people to emulate that lifestyle. But Rosario ultimately dies the way she lived: by the gun.

The show’s initial slogan, “It’s harder to love than to kill”, even sparked protests in Medellín, where the story is set. So, that advertising posters were taken down. Murder, betrayal, fast money and beautiful women may be vulgar. But it makes for a riveting television series and Rosario was one of the top-rated program in Colombia when it started airing.

You may need Spanish for the telenovela series as I haven’t seen it with English subtitles.

4. Best Colombian Movies: Embrace of the Serpent (El Abrazo de la Serpiente) – 2015

Embrace Of The Serpent was Colombia’s first-ever Oscar-nominated film for Colombia (for Best Foreign Language Film). The movie is in black and white with a very interesting plot.

This is a story of the relationship between an Amazonian shaman and last survivor of his people, and two scientist explorers. The movie combines the accounts of two explorers over the course of 40 years searching the Amazon in Colombia for yakuna, a sacred healing plant.

The movie manages to tell a story of a world changing. And some forgotten indigenous people take center stage in this movie. The cinematography is absolutely gorgeous throughout the movie.

In my opinion, this is a Colombian movie that absolutely deserves to be seen by many more people than it has been seen by.

5. Best Colombian Movies: The Wind Journeys (Los Viejes del Viento) – 2009

The Wind Journeys (English Subtitled) is a Colombian-German-Argentine-Dutch written and directed by Ciro Guerra (who also directed Embrace of the Serpent). The film was selected as the Colombian entry for the Best Foreign Language Film at the 82nd Academy Awards but it wasn’t nominated. However the film won the awards of Best Colombian Film and Best Director at the 2009 Bogotá Film Festival and the 2010 Cartagena Film Festival.

This movie was filmed in 80 locations in Northern Colombia, capturing a sweeping array of locations. The film follows the travels of a Colombian vallenato musician Ignacio Carrillo who is portrayed by real-life musician Marciano Martínez. Carrillo traveled to the villages of northern Colombia, playing traditional songs on his accordion, which is a legendary instrument said to have been cursed by the Devil. He eventually stopped his nomadic life and was married and settled in a small town.

But after the traumatic death of his wife, Carrillo vows to never play the accursed accordion again. And he starts on one last trip to return the Devil-cursed accordion to its rightful owner. Carrillo is joined by Fermín, a young boy who wants to be his apprentice. And together they traverse the vast Colombian terrain and discover the musical diversity of Caribbean culture.

6. Best Colombian Movies: The Colors of the Mountain (Los Colores de la Montana) – 2010

The Colors of the Mountain is a Colombian-Panamanian film directed by Carlos César Arbeláez. It was selected as the Colombian entry for Best Foreign Language Film for the 84th Academy Awards in 2011 but didn’t make the shortlist. But Arbeláez won the keenly-contested $120,000 Kutxa New Directors Award at the San Sebastian Film Festival, where this movie world-premiered to warm audience reactions.

This film is about a young boy, Manuel, who lives with his farmer parents in a remote village in the Andean region of Colombia. The adults try to avoid the armed military and the guerrilla rebels fighting each other in the area. However, one by one, local families are fleeing to safer locations, resulting in a shrinking attendance at the local village school.

But Manuel and his friend Julian are completely obsessed with playing soccer any chance they get. Shortly after his birthday, a new soccer ball Manuel received as a gift gets kicked into a minefield. And Manuel, Julian and their albino friend Poca Luz will do everything in their power to rescue their prized possession, an essential part of their everyday lives and dreams. But graver dangers are lurking just around the corner.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=RZlgZGMVFFs

7. Best Colombian Movies: Maria Full of Grace (María, Llena Eres de Gracia) – 2004

Maria Full of Grace is a film written and directed by Joshua Marston that was produced in Colombia and the United States. In addition, lead Colombian actress Catalina Sndiono Moreno was nominated for Best Actress in the 77th Academy Awards.

In a small pueblo in Colombia, the 17-year old Maria supports her family with her salary working at a flower plantation. However, after unjust treatment from her boss, she quits her job de-thorning roses. Maria then discovers she is pregnant by her boyfriend. And he suggests marriage, but she declines because she doesn’t love him and he doesn’t love her.

On her way to find a new job in Bogotá, she accepts an offer to work as a drug mule. And she flies to U.S. with sixty-two pellets of cocaine in her stomach. And after more troubles with the traffickers and the death of a more experienced mule that Maria had befriended, she ultimately decides to stay in the U.S.

8. Best Colombian Movies: Land and Shade (La Tierra y la Sombra) – 2015

Land and Shade was directed by César Augusto Acevedo. The film was screened at the 2015 Cannes Film Festival where it won the Caméra d’Or Award, France 4 Visionary Award and SACD Award.

This film is about Alfonso, who is an old Colombian farmer who has returned home to tend to his son, who is seriously ill. This is a man whose past and present easily fit inside the small suitcase he has owned for decades.

Alfonso rediscovers his old home, where the woman who was once his wife still lives, with his daughter-in-law and grandson. But the landscape around his old home resembles a wasteland. The sugar cane plantations that surround his house have a constant burning of the cane, which results in a nightly rain of ash upon the family’s home. And this most likely was the cause of his son’s illness.

So, 17 years after abandoning his family, Alfonso tries to fit back in and save his family. The film presents a pretty helpless situation and focuses on some tiny, fleeting moments of hope, loyalty and love as well as regret, resentment and reconciliation.

9. Best Colombian Movies: The Strategy of the Snail (La Estrategia del Caracol) – 1993

The Snail’s Strategy is a Colombian comedy-drama directed and produced by Sergio Cabrera. The film was selected as the Colombian entry for the Best Foreign Language Film at the 67th Academy Awards. But it was not accepted as a nominee.

The film focuses on the hardship endured by poor families in Bogota and the the divisions between rich and poor in the city. The film deals with a group of people evicted from their shared home after many years, and their desperate attempts to remain.

The tenants are told to leave the house because its owner, a obnoxious, rich man from an exclusive Bogotá area, has new plans for it.  The tenants are given more time so everyone in the house has enough time to find a new place to live. And Jacinto, an intellectual and rebellious Spaniard, comes up with a way to remove everything inside the house (bathtubs, kitchens,toilets, roofs, walls, windows, etc.) and have all of it moved to a piece of land located on the hills of western Bogotá.

10. Best Colombian Movies: The Rose Seller (La Vendedora de Rosas) – 1998

La Vendedora De Rosas is a Colombian film directed by Victor Gaviria. It was selected as the Colombian entry for Best Foreign Language Film at the 71st Academy Awards. But it wasn’t accepted as a nominee. In addition, this film received a Golden Palm nomination at the Cannes Film Festival.

This story is considered a modernization of Hans Christian Andersen’s The Little Match Girl. The movie focuses on 13-year-old Monica who sells roses to couples in nightspots in Medellín. Monica hangs out with other runaways and her dealer boyfriend while smoking pot and sniffing glue. After ten-year-old Andrea runs away from home, she joins Monica and several other children living on the streets. And these kids lead anything but normal lives.

Tragically many of the non-professional actors in the movie either died or ended up in jail, including the star Lady Tabares. Tabares enjoyed a short period of stardom after the movie was released, but returned to a life on the streets. And she later was convicted of assisting in the murder of a taxi driver. She reportedly served 12 years in prison and was released in 2013.

This movie was reportedly filmed in Barrio Triste (Sad neighborhood) in Medellín, where Iglesia del Sagrado Corazón de Jesús is located.

11. Best Colombian Movies: Lessons for a Kiss (Leccions Para un Beso) – 2011

Lessons for a Kiss is a lighter side Colombian movie that is directed by Juan Pablo Bustamante. This romantic comedy has some stunning cinematography of Cartagena and is a nice change from all the Colombian movies about drugs and violence.

A teenage boy from Bogotá is forced to live in Cartagena where his mother opened a restaurant. He falls for a stunning girl, who ignores him. However, three different clients in the restaurant with different strategies in the arts of love: romance, lies and money, come to his rescue and try to guide the young boy to his dream: a kiss on the lips.

12. Best Colombian Documentaries: Colombia: Wild Magic (Colombia: Magia Salvaje) – 2015

This very popular Colombian documentary was directed by Mike Slee. This beautiful documentary shows some of the enormous biodiversity of Colombia and its stunning views, wildlife and beautiful but fragile ecosystems. Most noteworthy, Colombia is the second most biodiverse country in the world after Brazil.

As of October 2015, Colombia: Magia Slvaje was reportedly the highest grossing and most watched film in Colombian cinema history with over 1.6 million people in Colombia watching this documentary.

Unfortunately I couldn’t find this documentary on Amazon but Colombia: Magia Slavaje is available on Netflix.

13. Best Colombian Documentaries: La Sierra (2005)

La Sierra (English Subtitled) is a documentary directed by Scott Dalton and Margarita Martinez who spent a year following the lives of three marginalized youth in the La Sierra barrio, within Villa Hermosa (Comuna 8) in Medellín. The documentary was shot between January to December 2003.

The goal of the film was to demonstrate the cycle of violence in Colombia, specifically among Colombia’s urban youth. From one generation to the next, marginalized youth in Colombia get caught up in drugs and violence, all of which is ultimately connected to a wider national conflict.

Once you start watching, the emotionally charged documentary showcases a woman screaming and crying due to the loss of her baby’s father through gunfire.  It’s nothing short of heart wrenching.  Warning, the storyline is emotionally volatile and heavy with violence.

However, also keep in mind this documentary was filmed over 10 years ago and this neighborhood has come to a peaceful resolution and there are now even La Sierra tours.


Buying on Amazon

Many of these movies are available on Amazon. If you want to buy movies or other products on Amazon, note this is possible in Colombia. I live in Medellín and buy from Amazon all the time and I use the Mail Boxes Etc. ebox service.

This service provides a mailbox in Medellín that is linked to a mailing service in Miami. And any mail received at this mailing service in Miami is forwarded to Medellín.

So, I buy products on Amazon and ship using Amazon Prime for free to Miami and the items reliably show up in Medellín. In addition, Mail Boxes Etc. has offices in Barranquilla, Bogotá and Bucaramanga.

Amazon does ship some products to Colombia from the U.S. but not everything sold on Amazon ships to Colombia. But if you use the Mail Boxes Etc. service with Amazon Prime you get unlimited free 2-day shipping to Florida for products Amazon sells and the items show up reliably in Medellín with relatively low shipping costs.

Amazon Prime costs $119 per year but you can try Amazon Prime with a free 30-day trial.

Also, Amazon is reportedly entering the Colombian market in July 2018 with a market place in Colombia starting with selling only electronic products, such as smartphones, tablets and televisions, as well as decorations and kitchen items.

The Bottom Line: Alternatives to Narcos: 13 Best Colombian Movies and Series

The bottom line is there are a number of good Colombia movies, series and documentaries that are viable alternatives to Narcos and permit you to learn much more about Colombia. In addition, Colombia has a burgeoning movie industry with a number of new Colombian movies being released each year.

Several of the Colombian movies, series and documentaries released over the past 20 years have been very good and worth seeing, as seen in our above list of 13 of the best Colombian movies, series and documentaries.

If we missed any really good Colombian movies or series, please let us know in the comments below.  We are happy to review additional movies or series and add to this list.

Sign up for the Free Medellin Guru Newsletter – You can see all of the previous Medellin Guru weekly email newsletters and sign up here.

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There are links on this site that can be defined as “affiliate links”. This means that we may receive a small commission (at no cost to you) if you subscribe or purchase something through the links provided. As an Amazon Associate I earn from qualifying purchases

Medellin Guru is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for website owners to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to amazon.com and any other website that may be affiliated with Amazon Service LLC Associates Program.

Editors note: on July 23, 2018 added information about Amazon entering Colombia and ability for a free 30-day trial of Amazon Prime.

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17 thoughts on “Alternatives to Narcos: 13 Best Colombian Movies and Series”

    1. Alan Bachrach November 22, 2019

      Which of the movies are in English (I know Narcos is). Subtitled?

      • Click on the links in the article to Amazon that has details of the languages and subtitles for the movies.

    2. I’m a little confused about the criticisms of Narcos.

      It portrays Colombians as narcos and not regular people? Well, Narcos is about….narcos. If it was meant to be about hard working ladies on the street selling oranges or honest men going to do honest work then it would be called “Honest men going to do honest work”. If I watch a war movie I’m not going to complain, “geez, they make all men look like killers”.

      Colombia and Medellin have moved on? Did you guys miss the timelines in Narcos. It clearly spelled out that they were portraying the 70’s and 80’s. ALL places move on. I’m not going to watch a movie about slavery in the 1800s and say, “well this movie sucked because America has moved on from slavery”.

      It was from the US point of view? Yes. It was. The narrator from the very first minute even said so as much saying he was a DEA agent from the US. Can the US not have a point of view? Does one point of view invalidate another? They are points of view, which is why they are called… points of view.

      The accents are bad? Ok. You have your first legitimate complaint. For Colombians watching the show I can definitely see how this would be incredibly annoying and make it seem like a cheap production. But 95% of people who watched this show are not Colombian and did not notice. However, I agree they should have got the accents right even if I couldn’t tell.

    3. Ha I just saw you mentioned the other series I considered mentioning, “Sin Tetas”… the first time I visited Colombia I knew I was going to miss it horribly once I went back to my home country (New Zealand), so I bought four DVDs to remind me of Colombia.. La Sierra, Maria Llena de la Gracia, El Cartel and Sin Tetas No Hay Paraiso. I know this hardly gives anyone a balanced perspective of Colombia but as well as the stories, I love hearing the accents, the music and enjoying the scenery of this unique and wonderful country.

    4. Great list. I would make two additions personally, A Tale of Two Escobars, which many regard as the best of all the ESPN 30 for 30 documentaries. Yes it is another “Narcos” story but it provides a brilliant insight into the relationship between football and the drug traffickers during their heyday and I found it compelling, especially with regards to the story of Andres Escobar who most know only as “that guy who was killed for the own goal”.

      The other movie I would add is “Soñar no cuesta nada”, based on the true story of when some Colombian soldiers stumbled upon $45 million hidden in the jungle.

      But that’s just my two cents’ worth. As usual Jeff you have pretty much nailed it!

      • Hi Dave, thanks. A Tale of Two Escobars was recommended to me but I haven’t seen it. Also, “Soñar no cuesta nada” is another one I need to see. I’ll check them out and possibly add to the list.

    5. Interesting article. I’m an American who lived in Medellin for a few months last year. I wasn’t interested in Narcos (was tired of drug stories) until a guy from Cali who spoke English was talking about how much drug money built so many of the nicest places in Medellin. He said that Narcos did a solid job of depicting the shift of the cartel from Medellin to his city so I got curious enough to check it out. I’m not going to lie, but I liked it a lot more than I thought I would.

      Later in my stay a guy from Medellin (who lived in Miami for many years and spoke fluent English as well) told me that Narcos had some inaccuracies and that Patron del Mal was better and more true to what really happened. I went and started watching it (watched at least 7 episodes) but I can’t even lie, the acting wasn’t particularly good and the production was horrible (half the time people got shot it looked like ketchup instead of blood and never once did it feel like real violence). The guy who played Pablo as a teen was really good and believable but the guy who played him as an adult was NOT convincing or intimidating AT ALL to me. (and I’ve seen enough actual footage/clips of the real Pablo to be familiar with his mannerisms/aura)

      The actor in Patron del Mal looked like a fat actor trying to play Pablo (meanwhile the guy from Narcos REALLY brought Pablo’s charismatic, unpredictable, and temperamental personality to life whether he’s Brazilian or not). I get it, Patron del Mal tells the whole story and is more accurate and credible but it just doesn’t deliver as an actual show and doesn’t do the true story justice because of the poor execution imo (I probably would’ve liked the book a lot better). Some of that is because I don’t know the nuances like proper accent. Poor acting (especially by the main character) made me not even want to finish watching the show even though I was curious about what really happened. Not a popular opinion, but just thought I’d chime in on why a lot of Americans probably prefer Narcos (or at least why this one did).

      Thanks for the list though, definitely going to check out some of these movies and shows you recommended.

    6. Thanks and nice list of the best Colombian movies. I have only seen three of these and plan to watch more. Also, I did not like Narcos and I thought El Patron del Mal was much better.

    7. geoffrey March 10, 2018

      Movies can be crafted in a way that remains true to both history and cultural nuance. One that immediately comes to mind is “Traffic” directed by Steven Soderbergh and starring Michael Douglas, Catherine Zeta-Jones, Benicio Del Toro, Don Cheadle and Luis Gusmán who you will remember for his outlandishly out of place Puerto Rican accent as the Colombian José Gonzalo Rodríguez Gacha affectionately known as El Mexicano in Narcos. Ooofa. Mexican super star comedian Damián Alcázar couldn’t get the Colombian accent right either in the role of Gilberto Rodríguez Orejuela. Substitute Wagner Moura’s Brazilian accent for Escobar’s thickest of the thick Paisa and the overall effect of the accent mélange is distracting and quite incongruous for many viewers but most wouldn’t even notice. Anyway, in “Traffic” extensive use of Spanish was utilized to help lend authenticity yet it was a smash hit with the Gringo American audience.

      Netflix ain’t perfect but it’s usually pretty good. As pointed out above they do a fine job making available Colombian produced flicks. Narcos fell short in this in-house production but the series was a success for them. Maybe they should give Steven Soderbergh a call.

    8. Excellent list. I’m going to check out several of these movies to be sure. I’d like to play devil’s advocate just a wee bit here though:

      1.Narcos perpetuates Colombian stereotypes.
      -I know a thing or two about stereotypes as I’m an American and a racial minority. Believe me, I know all too well how people come to believe certain things about an entire group of people and internalize it as fact. However, neither I nor anyone else can control that. The Colombians themselves have to mature up a bit here. It’s a TV series about a horrible and violent guy(Escobar). Americans and many others love gangsters and bad guys in fictional TV or movie dramas. Heck, one of the best gangster movies of all time centered on the Italian mob. Many in the Italian community were upset but nobody could deny that Italian mobs exist or didn’t have influence; therefore there’s an opportunity/potential for drama and great storytelling. Today if you ask a Colombian on the street what he thinks of an Italian man dressed in a dark custom made silk suit, I’m sure his mind conjures up plenty of images too. Most would likely be stereotypical of what he’s seen in media. Sadly, until you can write your own story then others will write it for you.

      2.Some of the accents in Narcos are terrible.
      -A very valid complaint…among Spanish speakers. Since Narcos is directed at primarily American audiences with English subtitles, I doubt they or the average non-Spanish speaker even notices or cares.

      3.Medellín and Colombia have moved on. It’s over two decades since Pablo Escobar’s death and Medellín is a completely transformed city and Colombia is a different country.
      -Most mature expats and rational travelers already know this. This website along with a few others dispels those stereotypes daily. Perhaps it’s better that those who choose to remain in ignorance and fear stay far away from Colombia. Leaving the more seasoned, intrepid traveler to explore Colombia’s fantastic treasures.

      4.Narcos is the United States’ viewpoint of another country’s history.
      -Of the 4 problems mentioned this one is the most poignant. However, let’s consider that the history of Escobar and the Cartel itself doesn’t stem from a monolithic viewpoint either. Many Colombians loved Escobar and think he didn’t go far enough! In fact, the love or hatred of Escobar depends entirely on who you talk to…even amongst Colombians! So then why should Netflix or any other fictional media portrayal of such a man not be subject to similar interpretations as well? Many traits are ascribed to historical figures who never said or acted in any way portrayed in modern media. Would critics of the Narcos series instead wish that Escobar was depicted as more humane and egalitarian? That instead of running a cocaine empire, he picked only the best flowers for the annual Medellin Flower Festival during his off hours? Or even better, that Narcos showed him selecting choice coffee beans in the hills for Juan Valdez? How about a sightseeing trip to Guatape with his best and brightest sicarios for a weekend getaway? My point is Netflix chose to do the show for high-drama entertainment not for highlighting the qualities of Colombia with the approval of the Colombian Tourism Board or the Medellin Chamber of Commerce. It may be unfair but so is life.

    9. geoffrey March 9, 2018

      Narcos is hobbled, contaminated, and sometimes laughable because of the reasons Jeff so ably details above. Its producers wanted it to be profitable, palatable, comfortable and accepted by a world-wide audience. In a way it is kind of a throw back to the gilded age of the Hollywood studio bosses who played fast and loose with historical dramas in order to make a buck. The Netflix company is on a roll in so many ways but they should have had a little more confidence, knowledge of and respect for those more acquainted with Latin America.

      Articles like this one are invaluable resources for anyone genuinely interested in Colombia. The scripts, production values, music, humor, actors and genuine story telling ability to be found in this country are to be admired.

      • To be fair to Netflix, they show (at least in Colombia), quite a number of Colombian made Narco- Novelas, e.g. the already quoted “Cartel de los Sapos” and one that Jeff missed out on : “Las munecas de la mafia”, wit a simply irresistible Amparo Grisales. My two cents on Jeff’s suggestions: the second season of “El Cartel..” doesn’t even come close to the first season, despite a stellar performance of Robinson Dias (“el capo”). On the ligher side I would add “Bluff” (2007, directed by Felipe Marines) . On the darker side, “Sin tetas no hay paraiso”, but only the movie version.
        Jeff, could you recommend stores in Medellin with an ample selection of Colombian DVDs?
        Cheers
        Harry

        • Hi Harry, thanks. I agree with you that the second season of “El Cartel” wasn’t as good as the first. I almost included “Sin tetas no hay paraiso” in the list but a friend recommended leaving it out. I haven’t seen Bluff so thanks for the recommendation.

          As far as stores selling DVDs I have seen a few in the malls but can’t think of any store names off the top of my head. There are also lots of bootleg DVDs on the streets.

        • Hi Harry, I happened to walk by a store in Oviedo mall today named La Música that sells CDs and DVDs. I briefly stopped in and they have a number of Colombian DVDs including several on the above list of Best Colombian Movies and Series.

      • Hi Geoffrey, thanks and I agree with “The scripts, production values, music, humor, actors and genuine story telling ability to be found in this country are to be admired.” Hopefully this article will get more foreigners to discover Colombian movies.

    10. David Williams March 9, 2018

      Thanks, nice list of good Colombian movies and I agree regarding the Narcos problems.

      Another movie to possibly add to the list is The Two Escobars but you may not want to add yet another Escobar movie.

      • Hi David, thanks. Yes, I considered including The Two Escobars but thought there is already enough narco films on the list.

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