July 17, 2008

Art Mirrors Reality: “Towards Darkness” Brings International Focus to Real-Life Kidnapped Hostages Recently Freed From Colombian Rebels

In a daring, dangerous and spectacular rescue mission that has captured the world's attention for the last week, military officers from the Latin American country of Colombia duped the leftist Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia, known as FARC, to rescue 15 real-life hostages, including three Americans and former French-Colombian politician Ingrid Delloye-Betancourt. The successful military operation amidst the country's remote jungles and mountains has drawn international attention to the crisis of hundreds of hostages held under harrowing conditions.

The DVD of "Towards Darkness (Hacia La Oscuridad)" is also based on true kidnappings in Colombia, but from a point of view not usually seen. The film's writer/director Antonio Negret utilized his recent history to tell his personal, fact-based story of his own family kidnappings. In an impressive departure from her Emmy, SAG and Golden Globe winning performances in Ugly Betty, America Ferrera stars in the film, which debuts on DVD July 22nd from Peace Arch Entertainment.

"Towards Darkness (Hacia La Oscuridad)" is a gut-wrenching bilingual thriller set in the all-too-real kidnapping business that plagues the Latin American country of Colombia. Twenty-four-year-old writer/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. The film is inspired by his own true experience with kidnappings in Colombia. At various times, three of his family members were kidnapped: the first was somewhat quickly returned after a ransom was paid off; after several months, the second was finally found after a nationwide manhunt and the kidnappers were arrested. Then, about a year later, yet another family member was kidnapped. Unfortunately, his fate was even darker. He was murdered. The family was 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 Darkness (Hacia La Oscuridad)".

The feature is also based on Negret's award-winning short film "Darkness Minus Twelve," which also starred America Ferrera. The short received several awards including the National Association of Latino Independent Producers Audience Award, St. Petersburg 'Message to Man' Honorable Mention Award, Renegade Film Festival Grand Prize, and Orinda Film Festival Audience Award. "Towards Darkness (Hacia La Oscuridad)" had its world premiere as an Official Selection at the 2007 Tribeca Film Festival before a successful theatrical release. "Admirably tough-minded, 'Towards Darkness' delivers on its foreboding title," exclaimed the Village Voice, while TV Guide noted "Negret brings personal experience to the material; his own family endured two ordeals by kidnapping, and he works up a painfully convincing sense of sweaty desperation."

In addition to Ferrera, the film also stars Roberto Urbina, David Sutcliffe, Tony Plana (who plays America's father on Ugly Betty), Cameron Daddo, William Atherton and Alejandra Borrero. The producers are Craig Anderson and Luiza Ricupero, and the executive producers are America Ferrera, Brett Etre, Justin Goodman, Randy Holleschau, Daniel Negret and Alex Yanev.