I wanted to tell a story that I would feel comfortable directing and would want to watch both as a movie buff and as a filmmaker. A story that could be told with the resources available to me without compromising production value. A story with characters, plot, landscapes, and cultures that I could relate to; one that both my Colombian and non-Colombian friends would want to watch. A story that would not rely on violence to touch upon the Colombian socio-political context in which my generation grew up. A story that would force me to grow both as a filmmaker and as person. In EL EMPANTANADO I found that story.
While writing the script, I had the opportunity to talk with kidnap victims whose families were affected by the months and years of separation. Some of them were able to reconnect with their love-ones. Some of them were not. Those whose relationships did not heal saw their kidnapping experience not as the reason for their dissociation but rather as a catalyst. This is the role that kidnapping has in EL EMPANTANADO. Thus, the film is not about the kidnapping event, but rather about the process of repairing relationships.
With EL EMPANTANADO, my attempt is not to give answers, but rather to generate questions about our own choice of being vulnerable or being protected. We reconstruct the truth, creating tales of our own existence that we narrate to others and ourselves with conviction, sometimes even with pride. However, we have selective memory. These tales tend to leave out key elements of the events that could jeopardize our relationships and self-worth. Yet, the truth is always present and when it surfaces, it hurts. Relationships get muddy and it takes time and effort to understand that despite the confusion, the love is still there and one must first identify the missing elements of one’s tale, to be able to look beyond the mud that covers these emotional ties.
I look forward to the process of materializing this vision. Never in my life have I been so exited. I am thankful for this opportunity. I am thankful to my team for their discipline and talent, to my mentors for their guidance, to investors for their trust, and to my family and friends for their emotional support. A todos, mil gracias.
– FELIPE ECHAVARRIA
As a Producer I am always in search of two things; originality and marketability, and often times in the film industry these two characteristics do not come hand in hand. However, when a story comes your way that can be described as both, the feeling is remarkable and the search is over. When Felipe first pitched me EL EMPANTANADO, I saw a hybrid between a high concept film and a character driven drama. It presents true entertainment value in the form of scuba diving, kidnapping, sex, and the appeal of an idyllic island landscape, yet it is full of substance that will captivate the audience on a cerebral level through mystery, a complex socio-political context, and the characters’ intense psychological struggle.
When an audience leaves the theater they want to feel, that they didn’t just turn their mind off for 90 minutes, but in fact they are leaving entertained, with an emotional attachment to the characters, and a slightly different outlook on life, on the world itself, or on the concept human nature. This feeling is achieved through intelligent and original subject matter that challenges traditional constructs, but doesn’t stray from cinematic techniques and storytelling principles that define the films we love.
As the Producer of EL EMPANTANADO, I am confident that what we have in our grasp, is a motion picture that will embody these unique characteristics, take the festival circuit by storm, and marry the worlds of Latin American cinema and US Independent cinema. This confidence stems from a belief in our team, as well as a deep respect for writer/director Felipe Echavarria’s previous work, creative vision, and tenacity. Their passion and talent will propel EL EMPANTANDO to compete with bigger budget motion pictures, and in turn we will define our perspective and our style in the independent industry.
– MAGGIE DRAYTON