Ajyal Film Festival 2024

All Films

Land of Ashes (Ceniza Negra)

Ajyal Competition - Ajyal Film Festival 2019

Sofía Quirós Ubeda / Feature Narrative / Costa Rica, Argentina, Chile, France / 2019 / 82 min / Colour / DCP / In Spanish
Rated: Mature subject matter which may not be suitable for minors. Parental guidance is strongly advised.Individuals under the age of 15 are not admitted into cinemas.


Selva lives in a Caribbean coastal town. After the abrupt disappearance of her only motherly figure, the thirteen-year-old girl is left alone to take care of her elderly grandfather, who doesn’t want to live anymore. Between mysterious shadows and wild games, she debates whether or not to help her grandfather achieve his desire, even though this might mean going through her last moments of childhood alone. A tender and humane coming-of-age story, the film plays on the edge between adolescence and maturity, life and death.

Writer-director Sofia Quiros Ubeda returns to the characters and mise en scène of her short ‘Selva’ (2016) for her first feature film which explores mourning from a child’s perspective, full of ancient wonder and mysticism. The teeming jungle of Costa Rica and its wildlife bring an intriguing symbolism to the film, much of it concerning mortality and transmutation. Ubeda has a keen eye for storytelling with a natural talent for getting great performances from her largely non-professional cast, and 13-year old Smashleen Gutiérrez is a revelation in the lead role, bringing an assured depth to her character’s passage from childhood to womanhood.

About the Director

Sofía Quirós Ubeda studied Sound and Image Design at the University of Buenos Aires. Since her first short films, Sofía has focused on working with non-actors and actresses, creating films that explore their characters’ intimate worlds with a poetic vision that highlights atmosphere and emotion. In 2016, her short film ‘Selva’ premiered at La Semaine de la Critique of the Cannes Film Festival 2017. Since then, it went to screen in more than 40 cities around the world gathering awards like the TV5 Prize in Biarritz and the ‘Women in Film and TV Award’ given by the Guanajuato IFF.


Sofía Quirós Ubeda
Sofía Quirós Ubeda
Mariana Murillo
Production Designer
Carolina Lett
Cecilia Salim, Matías Echeverría, Millaray Cortés, Samuel Chauvin
Wissam Hojeij
Francisca Saéz Agurto
Sales Company
Totem Films
Production Company
Sputnik Films, Murillo Cine, La POST Producciones, Promenades Films
Totem Films
Smachleen Gutiérrez, Humberto Samuels, Hortensia Smith, Keha Brown

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