La Estrategia del Caracol (English: The Strategy of the Snail) is a 1993 Colombian comedy-drama film directed and produced by Colombian filmmaker and director Sergio Cabrera. The film is starred by Frank Ramirez, Florina Lemaitre, Humberto Dorado, Fausto Cabrera and Carlos Vives. The film is a winner of the Berlin International Film Festival and the Biarritz Film Cinema Festival of Latin America. The film deals with the hardships of low income class families in Bogota. The breach between rich and poor and their interactions in a highly stratified social system.
A group of tenants living in an old house are confronted with having to move out due to a renovation project the city has undertaken. The tenants decide to unite and come up with a strategy, but in the process—while the landlord and his aggressive attorney are chasing them—the tenants transform into the opposite of who they once were.
The film starts with news reporter Jose Antonio Pupo (played by Carlos Vives) interviewing a man after the movie events had taken place. This gentleman who is also a tenant reveals to the journalist how the material house where the tenants lived for so many years was taken to a different place by rudimentary but ingenious means.The mans story entangles with the depiction of the events.
The house is an old one and it is home of different kinds of people. All of them are humble and from a diverse background. They are told to leave the house because its owner, a rich obnoxious man from Bogotas exclusive area, has new plans with it. The tenants are confronted with the authorities who are trying to kick everyone out of the house. The tenants decide to take a stand by locking doors and shooting the policemen that try to carry out their orders.
After this confrontation the tenants are given more time so everyone in the house has enough time to find a new place to live. The tenants are legally represented by "Perro" Romero (Frank Ramirez)(who is extremely annoyed by anyone using the nickname "Perro" meaning dog). Romero is a man with some academic background and has the means to deal with the authorities and Dr. Holguins (the house owner) lawyers.
Dr. Holguin uses dirty tricks to create pressure on Romero to the extent that he is kidnapped and beaten by Dr. Holguins men. Meanwhile at the house Jacinto (played by Fausto Cabrera) an intellectual and rebellious Spaniard devices a way to remove everything inside the house (walls, windows, bathtubs, kitchens, toilets, roofs, etc.) and have all that moved to a piece of land located at the hills in western Bogota. Jacinto shows "Perro" Romero how it can be done by the use of a rope and pulley, he does it by demonstrating him how the pulleys and ropes are used in theatrical stages to lift very heavy weights, he does this at the stage of the Colon theater.
Jacinto is able to convince the rest of the tenants so everyone becomes a team player and helps in the construction of a tall wooden tower that would help move everything to another house couple of blocks away.
As the house is being dismantled by the tenants Misia Triana (played by actress Delfina Guido) accidentally finds the silhouette of virgin Mary in a wall. Misia Triana a very religious lady who was the fiercest opponent of Jacintos project finally agrees by conditioning him to have the virgin moved first.
After going through a series of events and hazards the tenants are able to remove all the insides of the house, but in order to gain more time Romero tells Dr. Holguins lawyer Victor Honorio Mosquera (played by Humberto Dorado) that the tenants wanted to paint the house as a way to apologize for any inconvenience they might have caused, to which Mosquera agrees.
As the deadline approaches the tenants have removed everything inside the house and had moved it to the hills by using animal traction vehicles, informally known in Bogota as zorras. By the time lawyers, policemen and Dr. Holguin himself eagerly approach the house to witness that the tenants have actually left they are surprised by a huge explosion and the collapsing of the houses facade. After the dust and debris have dissipated they find a house painted in a wall with a graffiti style writing superimposed that reads "AHI TIENEN SU HIJUEPUTA CASA PINTADA" "Heres your motherfucking painted house."
The movie goes back again to news reporter Jose interviewing the man who is finally upset by a reporters question and so he leaves the scene. Finally the tenants are shown gathered in one of the hills with a panoramic view of Bogota and a Colombian flag can be seen waving.
The film was originally envisioned by Ramon Jimeno as an inspiration based on a story he had read in a newspaper, about the removal of tenants in a house whose legal procedure had taken such a long time that by the time the authorities had to intervene they realized that the house no longer existed.
Although Jimeno had envisioned the movie several years before it was screenwriter and actor Humberto Dorado who finally shaped it into a dense 400 pages screenplay, that eventually became the original screenplay and a blueprint for the film. Later after the majority of it was filmed, screenwriter Jorge Goldemberg came as an editing consultant and restructured the film, but it was not only until Nobel Prize Gabriel Garcia Marquez saw the pilot of the film and encouraged Sergio Cabrera to continue with the making of the film. Because of budget problems and the lack of support of the Colombian government the film took four years to be fully completed . In fact by the time the Colombian government was actually shutting down the cultural organizations that supported filmmakers such as Focine.
The movie was filmed in Bogotas downtown with several scenes filmed in the depressed areas of the eastern hills.Carlos Vives.......................Jose Antonio Pupo
Frank Ramirez..................."Perro" Romero
Humberto Dorado.................Victor Honorio Mosquera
Victor Mallarino.....................Dr. Holguin
Luis Fernando Munera...........Gustavo Calle Isaza "el paisa" or "El culebrero"
Edgardo Roman.....................judge Diaz
Delfina Guido........................Misia Triana
Gustavo Angarita appears in La estrategia del caracol and Time to Die. Confesion a Laura (1991). Sergio Cabrera directed La estrategia del caracol and The Art of Losing. This Revolution (2004). Love and Anarchy (1973).
The movie was released in 1993 and it has been critically acclaimed because of the way it depicts the realities of Colombias strict stratified way of life. The film has won several prizes, it was the winner of the Golden Spike in Valladolids Film Festival and several others.