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A destructive cult leader gets his due in an award-winning Colombian film

Director Camilo Restrepo's movie "Los Conductos," based on his friend's experiences, observes reality through the eyes of someone on drugs and deceived by a religious sect.
Luis Felipe Lozano stars in the new film “Los Conductos" directed by Colombian director Camilo Restrepo
Luis Felipe Lozano stars in the new film “Los Conductos" directed by Colombian director Camilo Restrepo.Grasshopper Film

After seeing his friend struggle with a personal trauma, award-winning Colombian director Camilo Restrepo says that he proposed an unconventional solution: murder the religious leader who destroyed his life, in fiction. 

“He said several times that his life had been frustrated, that he was not moving forward because he was stuck on the idea that it would have been better to murder the leader of a religious sect,” Restrepo told NBC News, referring to Luis Felipe Lozano, who stars as Pinky in the new film “Los Conductos.”  

“Los Conductos,” which translates from Spanish to “The Conduits” or “The Passageways,” has garnered praise and won the best first feature prize at the Berlin Film Festival in 2020. After a recent screening in New York's Lincoln Center, it's being shown at the Acropolis Cinema in Los Angeles on Wednesday. Additional screenings will be announced through Grasshopper Film

Pinky is based on Lozano’s life. Viewers will see him on the run in Medellín after fulfilling his murderous desire. Off screen, Restrepo says that his friend did not kill anyone, though he did suffer trauma from being confined by a religious sect in Colombia. 

“Los Conductos" is slated to get screened at the Acropolis Cinema in Los Angeles on May 11.
“Los Conductos" is slated to get screened at the Acropolis Cinema in Los Angeles on May 11.Grasshopper Film

The filmmaker says that he saw Lozano sink into drug addiction, pinned down beneath the weight of real-life trauma. And he wanted to combine elements of fiction and nonfiction to show reality from his perspective. 

“I wanted to treat the movie as a documentary, observe reality through his eyes, someone who is on drugs, and after being deceived by a religious sect, has a tough time distinguishing between fiction and reality,” he said.  

Restrepo said that documentaries are often perceived as serious works about reality, while fiction can be treated more like a fantasy or a hallucination of the truth. He wanted to show how reality could feel just as unreal as fiction by having Pinky question what he sees and remembers. 

“All of these questions float around the film in a disorderly way because they are the questions of a slightly disordered mind that escapes from the world by smoking basuco, which is a form of crack that is smoked by the poorest people in Colombia,” he said. “It’s a drug that totally consumes the brain. And I wanted to question Colombian society and Latin America with Pinky’s hallucinations.” 

On screen, viewers will go inside Pinky’s mind, which at times is like a feverish dream, with a meditative voiceover and images of what he sees and remembers. And these reflections and observations, Restrepo says, can create a kaleidoscope that acts as a window or a gateway into different realities. 

“I wanted the movie to be more of an impression than an explanation,” he said. “Normally in these types of movies, documentaries of fiction, viewers expect to have something explained to them about the reality of a country. And I didn’t want to fall into the role of a director who puts a historical narrative together about Colombia.”  

The filmmaker says that the history of Colombia and Latin America is so complex that it needs to be handled with a complex story as well. And he wants “Los Conductos” to make an impression on viewers that goes beyond Pinky’s individual story and the stories that are limited by the borders of any country. 

“Those conduits that are referred to in the title of the movie are more or less passageways that can take you from one reality to another,” he said, “in time and space.”  

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