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The son of a Colombian banker, photographer José (Roberto Urbina) lives abroad in New York. While visiting his family back home for the Christmas holidays, he is reunited with a streetwise old flame (America Ferrera) and reacquainted with the casual violence that mars his country. Within days of his return, José is beaten and kidnapped, his captors demanding an exorbitant ransom from his parents. Aware that the local police would do more harm than good, Jose's frantic parents enlist the aid of a covert American special operations team to recover their son alive. Jose's father (Tony Plana) is soon forced to make an unsavory deal with a Colombian warlord in order to secure the million-dollar payment. Meanwhile, Jose remains bound, gagged and blindfolded in an abandoned warehouse in the rainforest, contemplating what he assumes is his imminent murder. The lives and backstories of various characters converge in a slick non-linear narrative that humanizes each one: from the rescuer (David Sutcliffe) looking for redemption for a past killing, to the kidnappers driven to crime out of pure desperation. Twenty-four-year-old director Antonio Negret's debut is a nail-biting, clock-ticking thriller that eschews stereotypes and blatant moralism, presenting a portrait of Colombia as a vibrant nation of resilience and exuberance, but plagued by extortion and turmoil.
Director's Statement Collapse
Many years ago, my family experienced first-hand the pain and frustration of being involved in a kidnapping. Two members of my family were kidnapped. When my family paid for their ransom, instead of delivering both hostages as promised, the kidnappers only returned one. This was the beginning of a nationwide manhunt, on the part of the special forces, to find and rescue the missing member. After several months, he was finally found, and the kidnappers were arrested.
About a year later, another family member was also kidnapped. Unfortunately, his fate was even darker. He was murdered. I can still remember the frustration I felt when my family was told not to inquire about the reasons for his murder. They were informed that it was dangerous to investigate who did it, as it could put other family members at risk. That feeling of helplessness, along with the charged emotions from the previous rescue, was the basis and soul behind Towards Darknes (Hacia La Oscuridad). The saddest part, however, was that my family's experience was not uncommon in Colombia. Many of Colombia's people have fallen victim in one way or another to the violence within the country.
Though Towards Darknes (Hacia La Oscuridad) was inspired by true events, it was fictionalized to become a more symbolic and encompassing exploration of the human side of a kidnapping. It is also, beneath the surface, the story of a young man rediscovering and falling in love with his country. The film thrives to show that beautiful side as well.
The 23 day-shoot on the tropical coast, amidst the dilapidated Colonial buildings, the low-income neighborhoods, and the dense jungles did not go without its challenges. In the end, though, the entire crew united to overcome the hardships, and to make a powerful film we are all proud of.
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About the Director(s)Collapse
ANTONIO NEGRET is a multicultural and multilingual director. He was born in Bogotá, Colombia, but has since lived and worked in Mexico, Ecuador, Brazil, Panama, England, and the United States. Negret has directed multiple short films and Towards Darkness, his debut feature film, is based on his short film Darkness Minus Twelve, which received several awards including NALIP Audience Award, St. Petersburg "Message to Man" Honorable Mention, Renegade Film Festival Grand Prize and Orinda Film Festival Audience Award. Negret has also directed two seasons of the weekly television series Not So Foreign Filmmakers Showcase on Sí TV. This show, which premiered April 2005, explores independent film with an edgy, guerrilla-style look at its filmmakers. Negret continues to pursue challenging and polemic filmmaking.