The dramatic July rescue of Paris-reared Colombian politico Ingrid Betancourt immediately spawned a slew of projects about the event.
But National Geographic Channel beat everyone to the punch with its docu “Colombia Hostage Rescue,” (Operacion Jaque: El Rescate de Ingrid Betancourt) which debuted Oct. 18 across Latin America.
Docu rolls out in the U.S. and the rest of the world before the year’s end.
Work on doc kicked off on the very day rescue was announced, says Isaac Lee, editor-in-chief of Page One Media, publisher of PODER magazine which produced doc with another Miami-based shingle, Paraiso Pictures.
Using their extensive range of contacts in Colombia and elsewhere, Page One Media, a U.S. Hispanic publishing partnership with Mexican conglom Grupo Televisa, secured unprecedented access to the hostages as well as key organizers in the Colombian military and government, including President Alvaro Uribe. Produced by Lee, Daniel Eilemberg and doc’s scribe Juan Rendon, “Rescue” was directed by Alvaro Garcia, the former director of Colombian newscast “Noticias RCN,” features unseen footage and first-hand testimonials from both captors and rescuers.
The docu written by Juan Rendon and directed by Alvaro Garcia, former director of Colombian newscast “Noticias RCN,” features unseen footage and first-hand testimonials from both captors and rescuers.
Shot in five weeks, the doc recounts how Colombian officials planned and staged the liberation of Betancourt along with 14 other captives, among them three Americans. Colombian FARC rebels abducted Betancourt while she was running for president in 2002.
“The real struggle was to get the documentary on the air right away, before the story got stale and before the November release of Betancourt’s memoir,” says Sydney Suissa, NatGeo Intl.’s executive VP of content.
Lee credits NatGeo for the doc’s rigorous adherence to the facts. “We had to substantiate every single detail,” he says.
Separately, Paraiso Pictures is prepping a two-part miniseries on the event for Spain’s TVE.
Mini begins shooting in Colombia in February.
“This a dramatization of the events that took place before and around the day the hostages were rescued by the Colombian military,” Paraiso Pictures’ Alex Pereira says.
According to Paraiso partner Santiago Diaz, the mini will narrate and present four points of view on the matter: the kidnap victims and their drama, the kidnappers and their world, the military operation and all the stages of its planning, as well as the persepective of the minister of defense.
These nonfiction projects are likely to inform the various gestating pics on the bloodless rescue. Farthest along is Screen Gems’ “Operation Checkmate,” which attached L.A.-based Colombian helmer Simon Brand to direct and scribe Jessica Postigo to write the screenplay.
“We’re still working on the outline” Brand says.
Other rival feature film projects remain in early development.