Kidnapping of Ingrid Betancourt, The

Reviewed By Carina Hoskisson
Posted 01/29/03 12:17:12

"In Latin American tradition, a film without an end & an unforgettable story"
4 stars (Worth A Look)

SCREENED AT THE 2003 SLAMDANCE FILM FESTIVAL: Most of you who will read this review have no idea what Colombians have to go through just to live. We all have delusions of grandeur: how you think you would act, what you would do to fix the problem, what our government could do to fix the problem. That is why I suggest you try to find 'The Kidnapping of Ingrid Betancourt' (previously known as 'Missing Peace'), a documentary about what it means to love your country.

Modern day Colombia is a study in opposites. It is one of the most stunningly beautiful countries on earth, rich in culture and natural resources. Colombia is also in the midst of one of the longest, bloodiest civil wars on earth. There are at least two, if not more, guerilla groups fighting in the mountains, the Narco-Traficantes (typified by the reign of cocaine king Pablo Escobar) and one of the most corrupt and fractured governments on the planet. One of the only things you can count on in Colombia is that someone you know will be kidnapped and held either for ransom, for prisoner exchange or just to make a point. They may or may not be interrogated, tortured, and executed.

The Kidnapping of Ingrid Betancourt could be called an accidental documentary. Co-Director Victoria Bruce initially met Ingrid Betancourt when they were both on a book tour in the United States. Bruce was intrigued by Betancourt, an outspoken congresswoman from Colombia, and decided to film her impending presidential campaign.

Ingrid Betancourt, the child of diplomats, has dedicated her life to fighting corruption within the Colombian government and bringing the peace her country so longs for. The footage of Betancourt yelling into a microphone (declaring the corruption of the party she belonged to) and being booed off the stage is chilling. This woman fought for her principles even when her children faced death threats. What no one could know is that Ingrid, along with her campaign manager Clara and only three months from the election, would be captured by one of the guerilla groups while trying to bring about a peace accord.

Immediately, the filmmakers flew to Columbia to capture Juan Carlos Lecompteís (Ingridís husband) steadfast vigil for his wife and his attempt to continue the presidential campaign in her behalf. These are some of the most touching moments in the film. Juan Carlos sitting on his bed, speaking of anguish and a terrible loneliness. He carries a bigger then life-size cardboard cut out of Ingrid while he stumps in her behalf. At first this seems comical, but by the finale her image is searing.

The production values are not the best I've seen. The documentarians were pushed into action by Ingridís kidnapping and lacked the funding to make this a slick piece. What the film lacks in production is made up for by the totally unguarded presentation of the Ingridís story with incredible access to footage and stills. My only argument with the movie is that it lingers in sections and could do with a re-edit to keep the story moving. Despite the editing, the film is engrossing and even people who are unaware of the problems Colombia faces will be intrigued and drawn to the story. There is something about this film that appeals to each of us: the rebel who stood up to the powers that be, the woman who fought for the rights of her people, and the man who couldn't give up hope.

If you want a neatly wrapped tale with a happy ending, this is not your kind of documentary. I donít know where the film will show up next, but I urge you to keep an eye out for it. Ingridís story is not overÖ ('The Kidnapping of Ingrid Betancourt' won the Audience Award at Slamdance for Best Feature beating out 16 other features and documentaries.)

© Copyright HBS Entertainment, Inc.