IDFA Spotlight Award at DocMontevideo goes to Like a Flame Lit on a Dark Night by Carolina Arias Ortiz

    The Costa Rican project is produced by Michele Feris for Mito Producciones.

    In the film, the director, whose first film Rebel Objects world-premiered at IDFA 2020, investigates the legacy of her grandfather Juan Guillermo Ortiz, a doctor and poet who left an important mark on the Costa Rican public health system.

    In 1970s, nurses and doctors travelled through the mountains of Costa Rica inspired by his mysticism and poetry, and built the innovative community health program "Hospital Without Walls". The film asks how to integrate the memory of a distant grandfather with the image of the revolutionary doctor and poet, and when does one begin to separate poetry from medicine?

    "An affectionate connection does not prevent the director from confronting the questionable facets of a macho man who at home didn’t spread the light that he projected in the outside world," says IDFA programmer María Campaña Ramia who presented the award at DocMontevideo.

    "With a surgical approach—perhaps inherited from her grandfather—the filmmaker attempts to disassemble an extensive yet uncertain archival material. Simultaneously, she searches for those who still remember her grandfather in order to dismantle not only the past of a public figure but also a historical moment in her country, the 1970s, when the progressive ideal was overshadowed by a patriarchal system. A promising project that allows us to revisit collective and intimate memory with a critical and grateful gaze."

    In turn, Ortiz says: "We are very honored to receive this award. The beginning of a new film is always a challenge, it is a moment of a lot of questions and doubts, so being able to have support in this phase is so important and motivating. We are sure that thanks to this support our film will grow and we will learn a lot. We are very thankful and touched by this award."

    Like a Flame Lit on a Dark Night is currently in the advanced development stage.

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