LAFF Documentary Reviews: THE TWO ESCOBARS, THE RED CHAPEL
The 2010 Los Angeles Film Festival is well under way now and already we are still checking out a wide selection of movies and documentaries. Here are some quick thoughts on the new documentaries I saw: The Two Escobars and The Red Chapel:
The Two Escobar
Synopsis: Pablo Escobar was the richest, most powerful drug kingpin in the world, ruling the Medellín Cartel with an iron fist. Andres Escobar was the biggest soccer star in Colombia. The two were not related, but their fates were inextricably—and fatally—intertwined. Pablo’s drug money had turned Andres’ national team into South American champions, favored to win the 1994 World Cup in Los Angeles. It was there, in a game against the U.S., that Andres committed one of the most shocking mistakes in soccer history, scoring an “own goal” that eliminated his team from the competition and ultimately cost him his life.
Directed By: Jeff Zimbalist, Michael Zimbalist
Thoughts: Every sport has two histories: the official one where lies are polished and truths are sanitized for the public and the unofficial one, that is often raw, messy and usually more truthful. Well, The Two Escobars is a terrifying chapter in the secret history of soccer.
It is a fascinating tale of two men who changed their country in very different ways. Pablo Escobar, the renowned drug kingpin, comes across as a complex individual who could be ruthless with his enemies but also passionate about his people and football. Andres Escobar comes across as an idealist trying to elevate his country with his ideals and his examples. Ultimately, both men contributed in their own way to the best and worst of times for Columbia through the vehicle of soccer.
The Two Escobars is a must watch, especially in light of the World Cup that is currently taking place. If you are anything like me, you will come out feeling uneasy but also informed about the complex realities surrounding this sport revered by millions.
The Red Chapel
Synopsis: Intending to expose the horrors of North Korea, director-trickster Mads Brügger and two Danish-Korean comedians infiltrate Kim Jong Il’s totalitarian nation under the guise of a cultural exchange program. The result is the mind-bogglingly bizarre documentary The Red Chapel.
Thoughts: One thing that you should know about The Red Chapel right off the bat is that it will mark you for life.
I love it for its comedic situations where the filmmaker and his team come up with with some really funny stunts. I also love it for the whole daring aspect of the whole project with its tense and light moments. And finally I love it for the amazing insight that we gain into the scariest political regime that still rules today because it does.
But more importantly, The Red Chapel will leave you thinking about it days later because it is really hard to shake the horrific notion that there is a place in the world where people live in constant fear from the moment they are born; a fear so deep that they cannot for one second express a shred of individuality without fear of being imprisoned, tortured or killed.
The Red Chapel is a must see documentary because it will give you a new appreciation for the freedoms that you enjoy day after day without thinking about them.