After five decades of brutal civil conflict, a peace accord has ended the war between the FARC and the Colombian government.
The FARC began as a guerrilla army consisting mostly of rural peasants, an estimated third of whom were conscripted as children. Its goal was simple — to end the rampant inequality in Colombia and overthrow a government that favors the rights of the landowning elite over those of the working class. Operating from bases in Colombia’s impenetrable jungle, the FARC ambushed military patrols, raided police stations, and bombed public infrastructure. The guerrillas become infamous for funding their operations with profits from the cocaine trade and kidnappings. The conflict quickly becomes one of the bloodiest and longest conflicts in the Western hemisphere, claiming 220,000 lives and displacing millions.
With the ink on the peace accord barely dry, 10,000 FARC combatants are preparing to demobilize and rejoin Colombian society. For many, it will be their first experience living outside of jungle encampments since childhood. Colombian civilians are sharply divided on whether to reconcile with the guerrillas or support former president Álvaro Uribe, who vehemently opposes the peace deal.
A heated debate grips the nation, from the streets of Bogotá to the rural communities most affected by the conflict.
Is peace and reintegration possible?
Ex-combatants Diana, Ricardo, and Boris know the difficulty involved with reintegration efforts all too well. These former soldiers have laid down their arms in hopes of building a new life, but they now feel targeted for their connection with the FARC. All three experience daily stigmatization surrounding their involvement with the FARC, as they search for acceptance in a society where 1 out of every 2 voters rallied against their reintegration.
Ricardo, 26, grew up in southern Bogotá — the wrong side of the tracks in a city divided by poverty. He was conscripted into the FARC at age 14 by his high school teacher, an embedded FARC operative, and spent the next six years as a clandestine recruiter, enlisting children. Ricardo also fought in the jungle, but an assassination attempt from his own comrades disillusioned him to the cause. After disavowing the FARC, Ricardo returned to Bogotá with the dream of becoming a teacher. Filled with regret for estranging his mother, is his family life beyond repair?
Diana, 29, was born in a violent rural area and conscripted into the FARC at age 13. She saw her first battle at 14 and fled from her FARC jungle encampment at 19. For many children, adolescence can feel like a battlefield; for Diana it literally was one. For the past eight years, Diana has worked to forge a new life in Bogotá, but old habits die hard. When a plane passes overhead, Diana finds herself reaching for the gun no longer by her side. Without an education or work experience, Diana spent years floating between odd jobs, carefully hiding her past. Even her fiancé did not know about her guerrilla past until two months before her wedding. Now, the situation is looking up for Diana as she nurses her baby and attends college. But something calls her back to the jungle — her younger sister, who joined the FARC as a child conscript and has not laid down her rifle. Diana and her family embark on a search, but can they locate her sister?
Boris, 48, took up arms to overthrow a government he found deeply corrupt and elitist. He lost the will to continue fighting after seeing the corpse of a young girl, about the age of his daughter, strewn on the battlefield. He then decided that the FARC seemed as much a scourge on Colombia as the government he reviled. Boris now struggles to make a life for himself while trying to reconnect with the daughter he left behind. He longs for the beauty of the jungle and the camaraderie of his brothers-in-arms. Boris never stops championing the Marxist values that inspired him — but can he stay true to his ideals in a post-conflict Colombia?
Our overarching goal is to help shift the discourse away from recrimination and towards reconciliation. To this end, we have forged partnerships with several organizations in Colombia, notably the Centro de Memoria, Paz y Reconciliación (“The Center for Memory, Peace, and Reconciliation”), which has agreed to screen the film to a wide audience.
We plan to accompany select screenings in the United States and Colombia with a short lecture from our Advising Scholar, Dr. Elvira Restrepo, a Special Advisor to Colombian President Santos. In addition, we are honored to have received the mentorship of veteran filmmakers from the Sundance Institute, which selected our documentary for its “Documentary Film Program Story Development Workshop” in December of 2016.
Noah is a filmmaker and visual journalist. He's created narrative and nonfiction programming for CBS, CNBC, WWE, PIVOT TV, PBS, The Smithsonian, and more. His last film, Posthumous, a Kickstarter funded project, won an Emmy award, was licensed by Virgin Airlines, and has screened and won awards at numerous film festivals.
Laura Ángel is an award winning Bogotá based filmmaker. She has produced several award winning short films, including the internationally recognized Gallo and “El instructivo del buitre”, winner of The 48 Hour Film Project Bogotá 2014.
Ameri Wheeler obtained her BS in Film from the University of Miami and her MA in Speech/Language Sciences from Gallaudet University. She is an LA-based speech and language pathologist with a research focus on language politics; her recent work involves rural to urban migration research, based in Ethiopia.
Margaret Cardillo is a professor of screenwriting at the University of Miami. She earned two MFAs from the University of Miami on fellowship. Her children’s book, JUST BEING AUDREY, won the Florida Book Award Gold Medal in 2011. Margaret’s film POSTHUMOUS won an Emmy in the student category.
We are currently in the crucial stage of beginning production, and we need to harness the power of your support and passion for our project to bring it to fruition.
Due to our partnership with the nonprofit Center for Independent Documentary, all contributions to the film are tax deductible. All funds raised via Kickstarter go directly to production costs. This includes transportation for the crew, the transport of gear, and food/lodging. Whether it’s $5, $25, $50, $100, $1000 or more, your contribution helps make our film a reality, and-- most importantly-- helps tell the untold stories of FARC soldiers on the brink of reintegration. We hope you’ll consider making a pledge!
Risks and challenges
There are inherent risks when documenting a subject involving post-war reintegration efforts. The stigmatization toward FARC combatants in Colombia is palpable, and working with ex-combatants involves the risk of danger. For some of our main characters, this is their first time sharing their story with the world. Working with combatants, victims, and others touched by the Colombian conflict takes time and patience. For that reason, the timeframe of completing this project could be extended or jeopardized due to unforeseen circumstances. Our safety and the safety of those involved with the film is our highest priority. Due to the sensitive nature of this project, telling each story safely and artistically requires time. The crew is up for the challenge and prepared to work in Colombia for an extended period in order to complete the film.Learn about accountability on Kickstarter
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