Private Project


Have you ever been in a Motel room with rounded beds, love chairs, colored lights and dancing poles? “Motels” explores a prominent yet often overlooked aspect of Colombian culture through the memories and experiences of motel occupants. By capturing these spaces, the filmmaker’s aim is to characterize them, understand their organization and the types of practices that take place in them, and identify the relationship to themes of sexuality and gender in the urban landscape.

  • Claudia F. Quigua
  • Project Type:
    Documentary, Short, Student
  • Runtime:
    27 minutes 26 seconds
  • Completion Date:
    October 4, 2019
  • Country of Origin:
  • Country of Filming:
  • Language:
  • Shooting Format:
  • Aspect Ratio:
  • Film Color:
  • First-time Filmmaker:
  • Student Project:
    Yes - Freie Universität Berlin
  • RAI Film Festival
    United Kingdom
    March 19, 2021
    Official Selection
  • German International Ethnographic Film Festival.
    May 13, 2020
    European Premiere
    Official Selection
  • Porn Film Festival Berlin
    October 25, 2020
    Official Selection
  • Katra Latinx Film Festival
    New York City
    United States
    November 18, 2020
    North American Premiere
    Honorable Mention
  • Regard Bleu Film Festival
    October 16, 2020
    Official Selection
  • Astra Film Festival
    September 11, 2021
    Romania Premiere
    Official Selection
Distribution Information
  • Royal Anthropological Institute of Great Britain & Ireland
    Country: Worldwide
    Rights: Internet, Video on Demand
Director Biography - Claudia F. Quigua

Claudia Quigua is Colombia-born artist based in NYC and Berlin. Her work expands on the notion of the artist as researcher, filmmaker, producer and media artist. She has a B.F.A in film and video from Massachusetts College of Art and Design and a M.A in Visual and Media Anthropology from Freie Universität Berlin.

Claudia is interested in the use of video and new media as a means to connect with others, reflect in our human behaviors and celebrate the universal thread that binds our human experience. Lately, she’s been experimenting with cinema to explore the places we occupy while reflecting on the themes of identity, collective memory and intimacy. Stories that reflect the nuances of a culture but are universal at the core.

Claudia Quigua’s films have screened in art centers and cultural venues such as Hearst Museum of Anthropology in California (2017-2018), Harvard Science Center(2018), the IFTF Gallery for the Future in Palo Alto, CA (2014-2015) and Envision Academy of Arts & Technology in Oakland, CA (2013), among others.

Her films were part of the official selections of the German International Ethnographic Film Festival (Göttingen); XVII Congress of Anthropology in Colombia (Cali), 54th New York Film Festival, Regard Bleu Ethnographic Film Festival (Zurich), and Marburg International Ethnographic Film Festival.

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Director Statement

This research takes inspiration from Andrew Irving’s New York Stories in exploring a prominent yet overlooked aspect of Colombian culture through the inner lived experiences of its occupants but also to capture and understand the characterization and organization of these spaces, the types of practices that take place in them, and the relationship with the themes of sexuality and gender. This contribute to an analysis of the society in the city of Santiago de Cali through the memories and emotions of the experiences of those who occupy motels. Space and places studies in anthropology (Low 2009; Ingold 1993; Lefevre 1991) is the theoretical base for my research. To emphasize the ways in which the spatial and the sexual constitute one another, I review work of researching sex, sexuality and sexual identity from within the geographical academy in particular (Chaplin 2007; Donnan & Magowan 2010; Maginn & Steinmetz 2014)

Understanding the city as social, economic, political and emotional space motels make part of the urban landscape of the major cities in Colombia and works as a place of liberation, freedom, fantasy, escapism and eroticism. Yet, the meaning of the place varies depending who intervene the space. In this study, I look on the experience of occupying such a motel through multiple sources. In order to stress the experiential aspect of sexual practice in the place, I focused on what motel clients themselves say and do about sex and on how they understand and interpret it in the context of a motel. Anonimity is one of the main characteristics of motels and I wanted to respect that by not revealing completely the identity of the participants so my visual approach is centered in represent the characterization and organization of these places rather than a explicit portrait of the informants. For the visual representation, I considered the spatial, aesthetic, semiotic, and locational denotations and connotation of the place. My qualitative study is guided by three related questions: In what ways have motels shaped the experience, organization and understanding of sexual practices in the society of Cali, Colombia? how do motels hold private memory and intimate experiences beyond the sexual connotation of the place? What effect has the presence of motels in the urban landscape?