Where are you from?
As immigrants or children of immigrants living in a multicultural society it’s improbable not to be asked this question at least once in your life. For Luis Eduardo Villamizar – being a first generation American born to Colombian parents – this was a question he could not escape, and ironically the time came when Luis would ask himself the same question: Where do I come from? I am of the opinion that we, as human beings have a basic drive to discover who we are, where we come from, and what our purpose in life is. This prevailing tendency is what inspired Luis Eduardo Villamizar to explore his lineage, heritage, and family history through his upcoming documentary titled A Journey to Colombia. It’s my pleasure to be able to talk to Luis Eduardo Villamizar about his forthcoming documentary A Journey to Colombia, a provocative documentary that is due to inspire, muster and unite us to see ourselves and our heritage with a different set of glasses.
Who is Luis Eduardo Villamizar?
I would say I’m just an ordinary guy who’s into films, 80’s music, tech stuff and trying to be a better man. Besides that, a dreamer, a romantic, somewhat jack of all trades and director-writer-producer of an upcoming documentary film titled A Journey to Colombia.
Why did you choose film as your means of communicating your message?
To quote a great line, “From my way of thinking, motion pictures are potentially the most influential form of communication ever invented. And there’s no control over it. Your message reaches everyone, everywhere.” I think this documentary will capture the essence of my journey and can make an impact into changing people’s perceptive about Colombia and Colombian people.
What was the defining moment that made you realized you had to embark on this journey?
I won’t really say it was one defining moment, more like two with six months in between. The first was at my surprise 40th birthday party with family and friends. The other was connecting with my cousin Orlando and working on a short film project with him and figuring out what would be our next project. The only positive thing in my life during that time was my family. Acknowledging the importance of my family made me realize how much I really didn’t know about my Colombian heritage.
What didn’t you know when you started this journey that you now know?
There is a lot of family history and stories that I’ve found by speaking with my dad’s side of the family during this year of research and pre-production. Most of that I can’t say now as it will be in the film but in general there is a lot I didn’t know both about my family and Colombia. For one thing, I didn’t know how large the country is.
In early May, German journalist Ralf Schuler from the Bild Zeitung referred to Bogotá as the most dangerous city in the world. How do you respond to this?
I can’t really speak on the danger since I haven’t been there but I would invite him to a few places here in the United States to consider worthy of that title. From what I’ve read and researched this past year and a half, I believe it’s like any other major city, there’s places to go and places you should only go if you’re a local.
How can other people aid in breaking down the Hollywood stereotypes of Colombia?
Great question! I think educating the public on what Colombia has become is something that all Colombians can do. In order for a significant change or impact to occur, we need to unite and I believe the country has taken the first steps in doing that thru various travel and tourism campaigns. But an individual can make a difference. People like Sofia Vergara, Juanes, Mariana Pajón, and Gabriel García Márquez have created a new dialogue on what it is to be from and be Colombian. By educating others that we are not just drugs, kidnappings and coffee we can show them how to spell Colombia correctly and go from there.
Which aspect of the Colombia culture do you relate with the most and why?
I would say the music first with food a close second. That’s what I grew up around. There was always music playing at the house and it seemed like every weekend there was a party or an event at a relatives’ house with salsa, cumbia and vallento blasting. So even now when I play “my music” I sometimes get the older generation really surprised by my selections. I got lots of old music through my uncles and it’s what I grew up listening to.
How do you usually celebrate Colombia’s Independence Day? How will you celebrate it this year?
Usually I’ve celebrated by attending some type of festival, event or concert. Of course listening to Colombian music and eating food is a big part of the day with a few shots of aguardiente. This year I’ll be at the Colombian festival here in Atlanta with a few friends and family wearing my sombrero vueltiao (Colombian Spanish for hat with lips).
For the most part you’ll be filming in the North Atlantic coast of Colombia. What does this region of Colombia have to offer tourists and visitors?
I’m really excited to visit Cartagena! There’s also Tayrona National Park in Santa Marta, the Magdalena River, in Barranquilla the Museo del Caribe and you can stop at the Castillo de Salgar. It was built by the Spaniards in 1848 on the ruins of the ancient fort of San Antonio, during the colonial era. It is located on a vertical slope, west of the beaches in Salgar. But that’s just a few places; la costa (the coast) and Colombia have so much to offer.
Is there something I haven’t asked that you would like to share with me?
I would really love for everyone from Colombia, with a Colombian background or with an interest in the country to join me on this journey by visiting our website at www.ajourneytocolombia.com and join us on our social media platforms. The more people who know about our documentary, the more of an impact we can make. You can contact Luis and subscribe to A Journey to Colombia on his blog and social media sites: