Review by Vinoo
Language : English
Director : Jeff Zimbalist, Michael Zimbalist
The two Escobars, Pablo and Andres : one a drug lord, the other a footballer who captained Colombia, both football maniacs. Jeff and Michael Zimbalist come together for the first time to tell the story of the two Escobars. During the era of Coccaine cartels in Colombia it seems ‘narcos and futbol were made for each other’. The film documents the lives of the two Escobars and their rise from extreme poverty to who they were. Football changed Colombia but then it was impossible to not attribute some of the success to drug money that poured in so brilliant footballers could be retained. The drug barons needed a way to convert all the drug money into legal currency, and the football team needed the money. There was not much choice.
The film has some rare footage like how Pablo Escobar gets the national team to his ranch and there were matches played between teams of various drug lords with a lot of money at stake. Pablo Escobar did briefly make an entry into politics and there was the attempt to try and become legal, though unsuccessfully. Roberto, Pablo’s brother, talks about a story where the paramilitary and the guerillas watched a game of football together. During a game of football they were all one. The film follows the killing of Pablo Escobar by PEPE’s (People persecuted by Pablo Escobar, a group formed by the Cali cartel and other right-wing paramilitaries led by Carlos Castano (who was later found to have complicity in drug connections himself). Andres Escobar was shot dead for his own goal against the USA in the World Cup, which eliminated the much-fancied Colombia (Pele rated this team the title contender), by the Medellin Drug cartel’s Gallano brothers. Interestingly, Andres said ‘Life doesn’t end here’ when asked about life after the elimination from World Cup. In the UK, the BBC issued a public apology the following day after its football pundit Alan Hansen commented during a match that “the Argentine defender warrants shooting for a mistake like that” The Gallano brothers went scot-free after their driver admitted to the crime. Quite obviously drug lords are good people too as long as they have the right people backing them. The film is not all black and white and shows lot of the good side of Pablo Escobar, who in the words of lot of the Colombians was nothing short of a modern Robinhood. The film also features some rare footage and also showcases one of the best goals I have seen, scored by Faustino Asprilla who I rated world best one point of time until he mysteriously disappeared from the football scene. The film veers a little towards the end and somehow gives you the feel it could have been much tighter but a good watch nevertheless. The film features most of the stars of the time, Rene Higuita, carlos Valderrama, Faustino Asprilla, Rincon, coach Maturana and others most of who gave up professional football after the incident.
One more film to add to my list of ‘football films’ on the must-watch list right alongside ‘Maradona by Kusturica’, ‘The giants of Brazil’, ‘Looking for Eric’, ‘Offside’…
The Bengalooru International Film Festival 2011 had a few movies worth watching but somehow didn’t get this film from the IFFK package of football films. Should be reviewing some of them soon. ‘Pina’, ‘A Separation’ would be my pick of the films at BIFFES. It was sad that they left out Mani Kaul tribute from the fest. That said it was good to see full houses at screenings, a rarity in Bengalooru. We can debate forever if it got in the masses or was elitist and if the movie list was impressive etc etc.
Useless Trivia : According to Roberto, Pablo Escobar’s accountant, he and his brother spend $2,500 a month just purchasing rubber bands to wrap the stacks of cash – and since they had more illegal money than they could deposit in banks, they stored the bricks of cash in their waterhouses, annually writing off 10% as “spoilage” when the rats crept in at night and nibbled on the hundred dollars bills. Taken from ‘The Accountant’s Story’ by Roberto Escobar, Pablo’s brother.