The Two Escobars

Directors: Michael and Jeff Zimbalist

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Published: Tue 19 Oct 2010, 10:22 AM

Last updated: Mon 6 Apr 2015, 1:10 PM

How did this project come together?

We were approached by ESPN Films, who had just launched the 30 for 30 Anniversary Series: 30 documentary films by 30 different filmmakers, each focusing on an event illustrating the interaction of sports and society in the last 30 years. We connected with a friend, Nick Sprague, a former soccer player and longtime fan of the Colombian National Team, and the original concept behind The Two Escobars was formed.

Hello world!!How much work was involved in completing the film?

We shot over 14 months with over 40 original interviews and hundreds of hours of raw footage and archives. We had to purchase archives from over 50 sources including local filmmakers, extinct broadcasters, private family home videos and military police tapes.

Was it difficult working around such a sensitive subject?

The Two Escobars was a story wrought with crime, corruption and senseless violence, ending in the tragic death of one of the country’s heroes, Andrés Escobar. In the beginning, we had little indication that this was a story of hope. When we spoke with Andrés’ family, former teammates, and indeed, all of those Colombians who had placed their hopes and dreams in the Colombian National Team, there was a strong sense that Andrés’ murder was not in vain. In many ways he was the sacrificial lamb that would allow Colombian society to clear the slate and start afresh. Andrés’ longtime message - that soccer needed to divorce itself from the narcotics influence and rely instead on an honest foundation - rang true, and the country started the long and arduous campaign to weed drug money out of its institutions.

What do you want audiences to take away from your film?

Part of the reason that many of the interview subjects were willing and interested in filming an interview with us was because they believed there were lessons to be learned from this story, and a chance to represent the largely successful struggle of Colombians to reclaim a sense of safety and order in recent years. As progress has been made in this struggle, not only has a national sense of pride and dignity progressed as well, but also the international image of Colombia has greatly improved. Yet, in our estimation, the international perception of Colombia still trails behind the reality of how far the country has come.

What was your impression of Colombia?

Colombia is a country known by the world primarily for drug-trafficking, mafia, widespread violence, corruption and guerrilla warfare, but the overwhelming majority of the population are peace-loving, hard-working, kind and impressive people. The negative international image of Colombia was a source of great pain for these Colombians, not only because it wasn’t accurate, but also because the very same lowly characteristics so often attributed to their people were precisely those harmful forces in Colombia that they had dedicated their lives trying to eliminate. It was important to us that the film represent a country improving, slowly but sustainable overcoming violence and corruption.

As accomplished directors, what sort of films inspire you?

Stories that challenge our preconceptions about our cultural and class counterparts, stories that connect us to worlds beyond the one we take for granted and stories that turn our world views upside down and inside out. Personal favourites include The Insider by Michael Mann, and Traffic by Steven Soderbergh, Alejandro Gonzalez Iñarritu and Fernando Meirelles.

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