Interview: Jeff and Michael Zimbalist, dirs. THE TWO ESCOBARS

– I had the opportunity to interview directors Jeff and Michael Zimbalist after a screening of their latest documentary THE TWO ESCOBARS at the 2010 Los Angeles Film Festival. Here’s our conversation covering among other things the complexities of non-fiction storytelling, the negative stereotypes hounding modern-day Colombia, and how family, soccer, and filmmaking overlap.

GLENN HEATH JR.: Can you briefly describe your background/experiences with Colombia before making THE TWO ESCOBARS? How, if at all, did your vision of the country and its people change throughout the course of the production?

JEFF AND MICHAEL: After finishing FAVELA RISING in Brazil, (Jeff) connected with (Michael), who had been living in Mexico running a theatre company, and we decided to work together on a film project. A Colombian friend had told us about the recent massacre in the self-proclaimed “Peace Community” in the Urabá region of Colombia. Having an ongoing interest in inspirational stories of communities coming together and producing innovative and sustainable models of development, we were intrigued by the Peace Community and appalled to learn about the recent atrocities. Soon thereafter, we traveled to Colombia and met with a number of the key figures involved in the founding of the community and the outgoing struggle for justice in the region.

While developing THE SCRIBE OF URABÁ (the story of the Peace Community in Urabá), we were approached by ESPN Films, who had just launched the 30 for 30 Anniversary Series: 30 documentary films by 30 different filmmakers, each focusing on an event illustrating the interaction of sports and society in the last 30 years. We connected with a friend, Nick Sprague, a former soccer player and longtime fan of the Colombian National Team, and the original concept behind THE TWO ESCOBARS was formed. Continue reading