Friday, October 31, 2008

"Towards Darkness" aka "Hacia La Oscuridad" on HBO & Showtime

"Towards Darkness," is the debut film by FoundTrack Friend, Director and Screenwriter Jose Antonio Negret . The film's conceptualization began as a final project for the Director while attending the University of Southern California's prestigious School of Cinema Arts. "Towards Darkness," is a dark and gritty (think "24") depiction of the kidnapping crisis that plagues the country of Colombia (and various other Latin American countries)- An issue that Antonio Negret knows all too well. "The film is a very personal film, which strives to open people's eyes to what is going on in Colombia," says Colombian-born Director Antonio.

Synopsis: 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. (MovieWeb)

The criminal practice of kidnapping was first introduced in modern Colombian history during the early 1970s by the guerrilla movements and, later, also by criminal groups. With the release of Colombian presidential candidate Íngrid Betancourt on July 2, 2008 this practice gained worldwide notoriety. (Wikipedia)

The practice of kidnapping has evolved and become a more common way for various underworld organizations and individuals to extort money from victims. It is so widely used that the rise in kidnapping cases has increased drastically. In the year 2000 alone, the number of kidnapped people in Colombia rose to 3572.

"Towards Darkness" or it's Spanish translation, "Hacia La Oscuridad," is a bi-lingual film that is shot in both English and Spanish, with English subtitles- A move that I consider groundbreaking. Groundbreaking because it speaks to a large portion of the population in the United States that still lacks representation in the entertainment industry. The U.S. is home to more than 45 million Hispanics, making it the world's second-largest Spanish-speaking community, only after Mexico and behind Colombia, Spain, and Argentina. Roughly half of all U.S. Spanish speakers also speak English "very well", based on the self-assessment Census question respondents (Wikipedia). That is a large number of individuals that communicate using both languages in their daily interaction, and yet there are no films that use the mixture of the two languages. Antonio may be a step ahead of the rest on this and I look forward to seeing more bi-lingual films in the future by this Director/Screenwriter.

Trivia: What do both Antonio Negret and America Ferrera have in common? I will tell, both are bi-lingual in English and Spanish and both attended the University of Southern California. The two were actually classmates.

"Towards Darkness" or "Hacia La Oscuridad," is currently on HBO and Showtime this month and is a definite must see. You can watch it anytime through HBO's and Showtime's On Demand Service. Check out the trailer!

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