Brickmakers (Chircales)

Marta Rodriguez & Jorge Silva | Documentary, Classic

1972 | 42 minutes | Colombia

An essential and highly influential classic, Chircales is the product of two of the most prominent and rebellious voices of the New Latin American Cinema: Marta Rodríguez and Jorge Silva.


An essential and highly influential classic for years to come, restored by the Arsenal Institut fur film und videokunst (Berlin). One of the first documentary works by Marta Rodríguez and Jorge Silva, Chircales is the product of two of the most prominent and rebellious voices of the New Latin American Cinema.

Rabidly current, Chircales is an exercise for a film production methodology that could be adapted to the sociopolitical conditions of Latin America. Using the framework of “participant observation,” Marta Rodríguez and Jorge Silva integrated themselves into the community of brickmakers with the Castañeda family to offer a more honest and complex portrait of feminist activism and Indigenous resistance.

Depicting the shocking poverty, domestic abuse, and exploitation of indigenous women and children in Tunjuelito, a neighborhood in southern Bogotá, Chircales chronicles the life of the Castañeda family for five years. The documentary shows the regime of exploitation to which it is subjected by the landowners of large farms from whom they were renting land for artisanal brick production.

In capturing these experiences, Rodríguez and Silva also created a methodology for documentary cinema in conditions of political violence that has been studied and replicated by filmmakers since then.


"Recommended. An emotional approach to exposing the systems that feign ignorance to labor and economic injustices within its borders and does so with a unique and engaging vision." — Sam Buechler, Student Success Librarian, Washington State University Vancouver, EMRO

"I'm sadly convinced that if Marta Rodríguez weren't a woman from Colombia, her films would be more widely recognized as landmarks of nonfiction cinema. The release of Chircales in a remastered digital edition will help make amends. Depicting the shocking poverty, domestic abuse, and exploitation of indigenous women and children in southern Colombian highlands of Cauca, Marta Rodríguez and Jorge Silva's first documentary bears the traits of Marxist cinema that they would later abandon. And while the labor and craft of brick makers has been a source of fascination to filmmakers as diverse as Harun Farocki (In Comparison), Alain Tanner (Une ville à Chandigarh) and Paul Meyer (Klinkaart), Rodríguez and Silva bring a rigorous methodology to their subject that is as compassionate as it is unflinching." — Josh Siegel, Curator, The Museum of Modern Art

"One of the most rebellious pieces of Latin American documentary cinema of the second half of the 20th century." —  Filmin

"Recognized for its originality and beauty as a quite exceptional fusion of politics, visual poetry, and ethnographic documentary." —  Encyclopedia of the Documentary Film

Main credits

Rodriguez, Martha (film director)
Rodriguez, Martha (film producer)
Rodriguez, Martha (narrator)
Silva, Jorge (film director)
Silva, Jorge (film producer)
Silva, Jorge (narrator)

Other credits

Cinematography, Jorge Silva; music, Martha Rodríguez.

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Leipzig International Film Festival - Golden Dove Award for Best Film
Fipresci - International Federation of Film Critics - Best Film Award
Tampere International Film Festival - Grand Prix Award
Oberhausen International Film Festival - Evangelishenfilmcentrums Award Katolishen Filmarbeit Mention
International Film Showcase on Social and Urban Problematics - Best Colombian Documentary
Educational Film Festival Mexico - First Place

DIRECTOR: Marta Rodriguez & Jorge Silva


YEAR: 1972

GENRE: Documentary, Classic

LANGUAGE: Spanish; Indigenous languages

COLOR / B&W: Black and white

GRADE LEVEL: High School, College, Adults



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