The Rose Seller

(La vendedora de rosas)
Victor Gaviria | Drama, Fiction, Classic

1998 | 115 minutes | Colombia

A poignant portrayal of life in the streets of Medellín, Colombia, directed by the iconic Colombian poet and filmmaker Victor Gaviria.


Directed by the iconic Colombian poet and filmmaker Victor Gaviria, The Rose Seller is a poignant portrayal of life in the streets of Medellín, Colombia. Its premiere was an event that captured the attention of the entire country and has since become a classic film.

The story follows the misfortunes of a group of girls in their early teens, all separated from their families and making a living for themselves. Monica is 13 years old and has already rebelled against everything. She has created her own world in the streets, where she courageously fights to defend what little she has: her young friends, her drug dealer boyfriend, her dignity, and her pride that makes no concessions to anyone. On Christmas night, like every night, she sells roses to couples in trendy nightspots and sniffs glue to fill the desperate emptiness with passing visions of lost family and friends. Monica hopes to buy herself the dream of a party with fireworks, new clothes, and a date with her boyfriend.

This film’s title deliberately recalls Hans Christian Andersen’s tragic fairy tale "The Little Match Girl," which served as the model for the story of street children. Gaviria uses a constantly moving camera to follow the cast of very young nonprofessionals with relentless intensity as they travel between the slums where they live to upscale city streets and back again. The film bears astonishing witness to Gaviria’s ability to cast and work with untrained actors, several of whom, like some of the performers in Rodrigo D, were dead within months of the film’s production.


"A powerful portrayal of those our society leaves behind and their very human struggles to stay above water and help each other even in such poverty and depravity. The Rose Seller is an outstanding drama that belongs in any public library film collection." — J. Zimmerman, Video Librarian

"Gaviria invites us to reflect on violence and social inequality in Latin America and its repercussions on the lives of so many children and young people. He does this with a sensitive and humane gaze that starts from the recognition of the impossibility of translating or representing the lives of marginalized beings." — Kenny Díaz, Palomitas de Maiz

"Gaviria is there to make the invisible ones visible, to give them back their uniqueness and their humanity, to bring the margins of society to the center of our attention...Gaviria obtains an unexpected poetry from those abrupt images, so similar to what we are. That is why The Rose Seller remains a testimony and a sharp reminder." — Juan Carlos González, Revista Arcadia

"Director Victor Gaviria transports the Hans Christian Andersen tale The Little Match Girl to the bruising streets of Colombia in The Rose Seller." — David Rooney, Variety

"A moving reportage because everything in it, except for the names and specific details, is real. The message is all the more effective because it does not take the form of a plea or a denunciation against a class; it is the simple reality portrayed that touches the viewer's soul." — Fernando Gil-Delgado, Ace Prensa

"Indispensable, a beautiful bitter fruit that will not rot." — Ángel Fernández-Santos, El País

"Gaviria takes as his protagonist a thirteen-year-old girl who sells roses and builds a film where reality mixes with hallucination, documentary with fiction, violence with lyricism, peace with war. " — Pilar Cuesta, Sensacine

Main credits

Goggel, Erwin (film producer)
Gaviria, Víctor (film director)
Gaviria, Víctor (screenwriter)
Henao, Carlos (screenwriter)
Ospina, Diana (screenwriter)
Tabares, Leidy (actor)
Correa, Marta (actor)
Gil, Mileider (actor)
Murillo, Diana (actor)
Giraldo, Liliana (actor)
García, Yuli (actor)

Other credits

Direction of photography, Rodrigo Lalinde; music, Luis F. Franco; editors, Víctor Gaviria, Augustin Pinto.

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Academy Awards® - Colombia's submission for Best Foreign Language Film
Cannes Film Festival - Palme d'Or Nomination
Cartagena International Film Festival - Audience Award
Havana Film Festival - Glauber Rocha Award, ARCI-LUCA Award
Miami Hispanic Film Festival - Best Director
Bogotá Film Festival - Best Film, Best Director

DIRECTOR: Victor Gaviria


YEAR: 1998

GENRE: Drama, Fiction, Classic


COLOR / B&W: Color

GRADE LEVEL: College, Adults



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