STRANGERS TO PEACE
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Communications and Research
Colombia seems on the brink of ending the bloody 50-year long war between the government and the jungle-based FARC guerrillas. As talks between the two sides continue, 10,000 FARC fighters, many who know little but a life of jungle warfare, wonder if Colombia can forgive the carnage and allow them to reenter civilian life.
Diana, an ex-FARC combatant, is trying to reintegrate into Colombian society after 8 years of fighting with the FARC. A piece of Diana’s past still lies in the FARC controlled jungle -- her sister, who continues to fight with the FARC guerrilla forces. She hopes to locate and bring her sibling back to begin a new life, but can they assimilate into a war-weary Colombia that is reluctant to forgive and accept them? This is the story of one family torn apart by violence, two sisters separated by war, 10,000 guerrilla soldiers awaiting their future, and a country of millions coming to terms with its past -- all strangers to peace.
We start by tracking the story, finding the characters, planning the shoot, and connecting with local organizations. This stage also involves shooting a teaser for the film to share both with potential sponsors and the general public.
We film the documentary and track the main characters. Most of the footage will be captured during this stage, hundreds of hours worth!
Next we compile hundreds of hours of raw footage into a succinct hour-and-a-half film. This is no easy feat! Making it look and sound professional is even harder. The documentary is polished through sound design, composing the score, sweetening the color, and searching for historic footage — all integral to finishing the film.
Even after the documentary has been completed the project isn't over. We need to share it with the world. This stage involves finding distribution for a wide release by applying to film festivals, traveling to exhibit the film, and partnering with organizations whose mission connects with our story.
Colombia. 1964. At the height of the Cold War, a group of dissidents band to form the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC), the military wing of the Colombian Communist Party. Their ranks swell with farmers, laborers, and even children wielding AK-47s protesting inequality and the urban elites. Even children join, eventually making up a quarter of their recruits. From bases in Colombia’s impenetrable jungle, the FARC ambush military patrols, police stations, and bomb public infrastructure like oil pipelines. Sometimes, they kill civilians. In the 1970s, the FARC starts kidnapping and trafficking cocaine in what becomes a $3 billion business. By 1982, a war-weary government opens peace talks — a process extended but never completed by future administrations.
But the FARC’s rise isn't unstoppable. Partly due to American counterinsurgency support, its numbers start shrinking, falling to 10,000 today. On June 23, 2016, the FARC’s leader, Timochenko, signs an ambitious peace settlement with Colombia’s President, Juan Manuel Santos, which is put to a referendum on October 2, 2016. It fails to pass, with 50.2% voting against it. But all is not lost as the peace deal is revived and voted into law by parliament — skipping a second referendum — on November 30th, amid controversy. Now the healing process must begin in earnest for the Western hemisphere’s bloodiest conflict that has claimed 220,000 lives and displaced millions.
Meet Boris - Scene in progress
Meet Ricardo - Scene in progress
Meet Diana - Scene in progress
This film is only made possible by the generosity of donors like yourself. Our team needs to return to Colombia by February 2017 to follow the reintegration stories of several ex FARC combatants who are currently demobilizing; however, we can only do so if we reach our funding goals. All funds go toward the production of the film and working with our community outreach partners in Colombia to help foster peace and reconciliation.
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Max is studying for a MA in History and Politics from University of Edinburgh, with a interest in migration, empire and post-conflict societies. He has done freelance film and photo projects for bands, political campaigns and non-profits, and produced and curated music shows in Scotland.
Ameri Wheeler obtained her BS in Film from the University of Miami and her MA in Speech and Language Sciences from Gallaudet University. She is a Los Angeles-based speech and language pathologist with a research focus on language politics; her recent work includes an assistantship in the area of rural to urban migration, based in Ethiopia. She has worked as a producer and editor on award-winning short narrative films and documentaries.
Mary-Cathryn Zimmer is a Los Angeles based cellist with a BFA in cello performance from the University of South Florida. She has been working as a Social Media Administrator for three years and specializes in marketing for independent artists. She has been playing as a freelance cellist for 7 years and has a diverse performance background.
Giulio Rocca is an editor and researcher with expertise in economics and international relations. He has worked as a financial analyst, management consultant, and independent editor for clients in the U.S., Europe, and the Middle East. His interests include conflict resolution, political economy, and communications. He holds an MA in English from the University of Hawaii and an MBA from Harvard University.
Social media manager
Laurie Kuntz is a poet and film producer and recently retired after 30 years of teaching creative writing and English at the university and secondary school level. She has published three poetry books, two ESL books and her poems have appeared in literary magazines and have been set to music and performed in theatre. Her experiences living in Asia and working with displaced people are reflected in much of her work.
Rocio Labrador, a dual citizen of Spain and the United States, has spent a total of thirteen years living, studying, and working overseas. Rocio holds a B.A. in Government and Classical Studies from Dartmouth College, which she has put to use as a reporter for a number of English and Spanish newspapers, an adviser to the diplomatic corps of the European Union, and a speechwriter for the United Nations. She currently serves as a Fulbright Scholar in Bogotá, where she teaches English at the Universidad Nacional Abierta y a Distancia and reports for the The Bogotá Post.
Margaret Cardillo is a Florida native. She earned two MFAs--one in Creative Writing and one in Screenwriting--from the University of Miami on fellowship. Her children’s book, JUST BEING AUDREY, a biography of Audrey Hepburn for children, won the Florida Book Award Gold Medal in 2011. Margaret's film, POSTHUMOUS, won an Emmy in the student category. Her print work has been recognized by Wine Spectator, therumpus.net, Kore Press, Mangrove, and Sun Sentinel. Margaret is a professor of screenwriting at the University of Miami and lives with her family in Miami.
Elvira Maria Restrepo also holds a joint appointment with the Department of International Studies. Her current research and teaching interests cross the disciplinary boundaries of conflict studies, criminal justice, women, human rights and peace-building, with a focus on Latin America. She is currently taking one year Public Service Leave as an advisor of President of Colombia, Juan Manuel Santos, on peace building, June 2016- July 2017.
Laura Ángel is an award winning Bogotá based filmmaker. She is a graduate of Politécnico Grancolombiano with a focus on film direction and production. She has produced several award winning short films including the internationally recognize Gallo and “El instructivo del buitre”, winner of The 48 Hour Film Project Bogotá 2014. Her latest film, Pichirilo, was recently selected in competition at Bogoshorts Film Festival.
Jorge A. Fernandez graduated with his MFA from the University of Miami in 2013. He has been a freelance sound editor and designer for the last 7 years and has completed over 20 short films, 6 nationally aired commercials, and has worked for companies such as CBS and Dreamworks. Jorge has been nominated twice for the MPSE Golden Reel awards. He currently is living in Los Angeles.
Jonathan Franklin is a Kenyan-born American cinematographer. While living in Kenya he was first exposed to photography at age 8 when his mother handed him a 35mm Canon AE1 and sent him off to the game park with his father to "shoot some animals." After graduating from University of Miami with a BSC, Jonathan worked furiously in the local industry quickly working his way up through the camera department on commercials, music videos and the odd movie that came to town. Over the years he has shot award winning shorts, commercials, tv pilots, and documentaries.
Colleen O'Brien studies indigenous languages and cultures in Colombia, focusing on their conservation and revitalization. She is a PhD student in Linguistics at the University of Hawai'i and also holds degrees in Classics and Anthropology from the University of Miami. She has presented at linguistics and anthropology conferences in the United States and Europe and is currently working on her dissertation while researching the historic peace process with the FARC in Colombia.
Noah DeBonis is a narrative and documentary filmmaker. He received his BSC and MFA in Film Production from the University of Miami. Noah’s MFA thesis film, Posthumous, won a College Emmy Award, was licensed for Virgin Airlines’ in-flight entertainment, and has screened and won awards at numerous film festivals. Noah produced, directed, and edited a wealth of narrative and nonfiction programming for CBS, CNBC, WWE, PIVOT TV, PBS, The Smithsonian, The Guantanamo Memory Project, and more.