Johannes Förster & Elkin Calderón Guevara
Germany, Colombia | 2024 | 28 min
World premiere
Languages : German, Spanish
Subtitles : English, French

How did peacocks, originally from India, end up on an island in Berlin in the 19th century, and hippopotamuses, a century later, on the banks of a river in Colombia? Their lives there appear to be “happy and free”. With rapturous imagery, Elkin Calderòn Guevara and Johannes Förster’s decolonial fable turns them into wild icons, bearing witness to the whims of the powerful.

What has a colony of peacocks in Berlin got to do with a herd of hippos around the Magdalena River in Colombia? Despite being taken from their original habitats, these creatures now seem to be flourishing in their host environment. But for Elkin Calderòn Guevara and Johannes Förster, they are a reflection of the very human desire for power. Their film shows this new "wild" life through a series of spectacular still frames and an off-screen narration that blends didactic essay with realistic fable. It establishes a parallel between the Austro-Prussian colonial enterprise that led to the creation of the Pfaueninsel (Peacock Island) in the 19th century, and the narco-empire of Pablo Escobar, who smuggled African hippos into Colombia (the password to enter his private zoo was none other than the formula for cocaine developed by... European scientists). As the whims of the powerful seem to affect wildlife in unexpected ways, About Happy Hippos and Sad Peacocks even invents an unlikely dialogue between the pachyderms and a blue peacock… as if the final word in this strange shared story belonged to them. 
Emmanuel Chicon
Johannes Förster
About Happy Hippos and Sad Peacocks, 2024
Controlled Burn, 2023
An Invitation to Disappear, 2018

Elkin Calderón Guevara
About Happy Hippos and Sad Peacocks, 2024
Hippos in gravitas, 2022
Ekobio, 2021
Flying Low, 2020


Elkin Calderón Guevara
Johannes Förster
Johannes FörsterElkin Calderón Guevara
Johannes FörsterElkin Calderón Guevara
Denise Onen
Johannes Förster
Sales contact
Johannes FörsterStudio Johannes Fö

International Medium Length & Short Film Competition

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