BY PAMELA BOWMAN, MANHATTAN, USA — Yesterday we went to the press conference for TOWARDS DARKNESS. Written and directed by Antonio Negret, it is the story about a disastrous Columbian kidnapping. While there have been several films about the rampant kidnappings in Latin America, this film is unique because Negret’s family has experienced the phenomenon firsthand. Rather than being an action film about the event, it is an exploration of the desperation faced by the family and the victim. Because of the strength of the script and, undoubtedly, the connections of Producer America Ferrera, Negret was able to get many talented actors to participate. Among them, the incendiary William Atherton (of DIE HARD fame), delicious David Sutcliffe (from HAPPY ENDINGS) and Tony Plana (as the earnest Della Serra in AN OFFICER AND A GENTLEMAN, officer Ray in LONE STAR and Martinez in PRIMAL FEAR).
Plana was eloquent and erudite during the conference. He’s the first actor I’ve known to make an argument FOR politics … politics of the people, of course. “If there is no political solution, the citizens are left in an existential hell. There is no future for the people,” said Plana, “And everybody is forced to sacrifice integrity for survival. They must destroy their enemies or be destroyed.” Plana voiced what Negret’s film reveals about the personal consequence of political impotence and antipathy.
In the film, while Jose, the victim, is physically bound, his mind is still free and he spends moments pondering his past while those who are physically free spend their moments paralyzed with fear and desperation. Negret said that he edited the film to show this contradiction. As more of the past is revealed, there is less and less time to handle the problem in the present so the cutting style is very aggressive. This viewer perceives the passage of time not as an opportunity for greater understanding but fewer choices. The film is worth seeing just for the editing.
One of our most exciting discoveries at Tribeca is Colombian actress Alejandra Borrero. Borrero was luminous as the mother of Jose and wife of Tony. She plays the mother with both tenderness and fierceness, a mixture that Borrero feels is typically Colombian. “What I loved about the part of Jose’s mother is that it shows Columbian women being strong. They never know if their husbands will come home again. They never know if they will see their children again. Columbian women are always prepared for independence.” Alejandra admitted to succumbing to the fear and reality of living in Columbia. “I left and lived in a different country for a few years. I discovered I wasn’t happy. I missed my home. I am now living in Columbia. I do not want to live my life like that. I choose not to live my life like that. My country is really a beautiful place with kind people.”
The audience faces the reality of this situation in a shocking conclusion and discovers that we all have to choose every day to be strong and live and love like there is no tomorrow. Catch the film!