Since graduating, New York Film Academy (NYFA) MFA Filmmaking alum Felipe Holguin has been making ground-breaking work, capturing sincere and comical portraits of people in and around his native Colombia.
Holguin recently wrapped his most recent project, La Suprema. Holguin spoke with NYFA about the road to his production company, Cumbia Films, and the inspiration behind La Suprema.
New York Film Academy (NYFA): Can you tell us a bit about yourself, where you’re from, and what brought you to New York Film Academy?
Felipe Holguin (FH): I was born in Bogota, Colombia, and currently live in Cartagena with my wife and my 5 year-old daughter. We’ve had our own production company, Cumbia Films, since 2009. In 2007, I was living in Sao Paulo, Brasil, and looking to get a masters degree in filmmaking. A friend told me about NYFA and I was immediately interested in living in NY and LA so I began the application process. The rest is history.
NYFA: What projects have you worked on since graduating? Have you won any awards or been showcased in any festivals or competitions?
FH: Yes. My short film Mañana (Tomorrow) was made during my first year in NYFA and it went to many film festivals around the world and won two Honorable Mentions. With Mañana, Cumbia Films was born. After NYFA, I worked in Los Angeles for some years as 1st AD in multiple projects and directed music videos and commercials. I was part of Film Independent’s Project: Involve program in the Directing Fellowship in 2012. In 2013, we moved back to Colombia and established our company in Cartagena with my wife and partner, where we offer production services for national and international projects. Between 2015 and 2017, I directed 2 feature documentaries funded by the Colombian government: La Suerte Del Salao (Unlucky Luck) and La Cachera.
NYFA: Tell us more about your latest project & how you got involved in the project?
FH: In La Suprema, set in a town erased from the maps where there is not even electricity, a teenage girl dreams of being a boxer. When she learns that her uncle will box for the world title and the event will be televised, she and the community go out of their way to watch the fight, while fighting for her dignity and against oblivion.
This comedy-tinged drama takes place in the early 2000s, before the internet and mobile phone boom, in a humble town, located far from any city, in Bolívar, Colombia. The film is inspired by the true story of Antonio Cervantes aka Kid Pambelé, who achieved the first world boxing title for Colombia, becoming a national hero, putting San Basilio de Palenque on the map.
La Suprema is a village in the Matuya district, surrounded mostly by palm oil crops. The community faces problems that go beyond the fiction of this film and it is the ideal location to narrate this story that uses fiction to talk about reality. It represents social challenges and universal values of equity, diversity, inclusion, justice, empowerment, freedom, unity, love and acceptance.
In 2020, we applied to the Film Fund (FDC-Proimagenes) and won 1 of the 2 awards given for regional feature films. I co-wrote the script with a friend and colleague, also a NYFA graduate, Two-Year Filmmaking alum Andrés Sierra. In 2021, we began castings and scouting, while looking for more funding and working on the script. We recently wrapped production, a successful 4-week shoot here in the Bolivar department, northern region of Colombia.
NYFA: What did you learn at NYFA that you applied directly to this project and others?
FH: I loved that the NYFA program was fully hands-on. On day one, cameras were put in our hands and we began shooting. The best way to learn to shoot a movie is by shooting movies!
The New York Film Academy congratulates Felipe Holguin for all he has done since completing the MFA Filmmaking Program!