This is a gripping narrative portrayal of the nearly forgotten (at least in the United States) story of how Middle Eastern militants infiltrated South American society to carry out anti-Israel bombings during the Lebanese civil war. It’s a studious look at the inner workings of a terrorism-afflicted world, calling into question why people fight, and whether there are truly good and bad guys.
What made you want to tell this story as a feature film?
I have always been intrigued by fundamentalism. That intrigue grew after I was supposed to fly from Venezuela to USA to catch a plane in New York on September 11, 2001. I was unable to take that plane since I got dengue fever while shooting a movie in the Venezuelan jungle. I saw the attack in my jungle hospital TV, and little by little started researching about the lives of the terrorists that created the attack, mainly getting a big interest in their cover lives.
I got specifically attracted to the AMIA attack years later, when I was in Argentina mixing the sound of another terrorist themed short film called Zona Cero, and there was a commemoration of the 15 years of the attack. As I started reading mainly as a general interest quick read, I started feeling sympathy for the victims, who after 15 years had not got an answer to their tragedies. This impunity draw me to investigate more, and the more I investigate, the more confusing the story sounded.
Finally, I realized there were more than five countries involved in the tragedy and decided to make a story that could speak to raise the topic of this tragedies again 20 years later, but at the same time making it interesting, entertaining, and making a tolerance point by mixing different countries into this story.
I think most people have forgotten about these terror attacks. Do the people of Argentina still remember them? Do Venezuelans know they had terrorists amongst them?
Argentina remembers it quite well. It’s probably the only country in Latin America with a strong feeling for these type of attacks, since they suffered it twice in the past.
However, Venezuela´s situation is dangerous. It has been proven the links between extremists cells and high government figures, making it a potential threat. However, it is not present yet, as this country has not suffered from any of this type of extremist attacks in the past. However, most people know or suspect about the underground activities being made in the country from more than 25 years (way before the actual government).
The world of then seems unfortunately, eerily similar to today. What do you hope people learn from seeing the film?
I hope we can learn to tolerate different point of views and learn that the real religion in this world is love and not war. It is a call for union and for working together and a call against any kind of extremism. I do have a personal problem with extremist behaviors, but at the same time, I also know it starts at home and it is a consequence of a series of events that ended up there. I think the film talks about that.
There is also a great sense of showing how neither one side is fully good nor fully bad. Why is that an important message in today’s world?
Because of technology and social media, we have become a world mainly based on the arrogance of thinking our life is valued to the quantity of followers or Facebook friends. This extreme realism has created the need to stop believing in a world of good and bad people. Now being bad is the new good. That makes our job as filmmakers more precise as we need to portray human beings in both sides of the coins. In this case particularly, I always tried not to take sides and just tell a personal story of two characters chased by the demons of their past. The main motivation for me to make this film was to be able to create a character piece about life, and not about good and bad people.
How has the film been received?
The film had great reception in Latin America. In Venezuela, we had more than 140,000 tickets sold, being one of the top five Venezuelan films of 2013 with a three-month run. In Uruguay, we were on the top five of the country´s most sold films for two weeks and stayed for two months, and in Argentina we are still on theaters, and the critical response has been great. At the same time, the movie was greatly received in Spain, where we won two prizes in Huelva, and in Englan, where I was able to find my next directing role, thanks to this movie. However, the movie has been really controversial, especially in Venezuela, where we suffered a strong extremist ban.
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