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The Independent Critic

Maruia Shelton, Mónica Chávez, Esteban García, Andrés Gámez
Alvaro D. Ruiz
22 Mins.

 "Tierra Caliente" Continues Successful Festival Run 

Having had its international premiere at the Indy Film Fest this past year, writer/director Alvaro D. Ruiz's 22-minute Colombian short film Tierra Caliente continues on its successful festival run with screenings at the Bogota Independent Film Festival and Wollengong Film Festival along with the U.K.'s London Latin American Film Festival and others along its continuing journey. 

In Colombia, where there are no seasons, it is common for those who live in cold cities to travel to the "hot lands," or Tierra Caliente, in search of a summer sojourn. The Tierra Caliente has become a place where one can let go and be free - where anything can happen. In Ruiz's Tierra Caliente, the rising mercury turns into secrets revealed for Verónica (Maruia Shelton), Lucia (Monica Chavez) and their boyfriends (played  by Esteban Garcia Garzon and Andres Gamez) and a weekend they will never forget. 

A short drama with sizzling lens work by D.P. Alejo Ardila, Tierra Caliente is a decidedly non-showy film, an authentic film filled with believable interpersonal conflicts and romantic tension that builds as secrets rise to the surface. The two co-leads, Maruia Shelton and Monica Chavez, are tremendous both individually and in their scenes together projecting both a believable chemistry and an uncomfortable tension that builds throughout the film's 22-minute running time. 

Director Alvaro D. Ruiz, a Colombian-Australian filmmaker who worked as an architect prior to his delving into the world of filmmaking, has a calm, patient approach to storytelling and creates a film that feels destined to be popular on the festival circuit even if it perhaps lacks the usual heightened dramatics often common amongst most award-winners. 

Tierra Caliente is a compelling film to watch, a film that seems simple and straightforward enough but also one that never quite reveals its hand until everything is ready to be revealed. I look forward to checking out Ruiz's future works. For more information on Tierra Caliente, visit the film's website linked to in the credits. 

© Written by Richard Propes
The Independent Critic