I was just recently blown away by the documentary "The Two Escobars". This story follows the lives of two famous Colombians, drug kingpin Pablo Escobar and soccer poster child Andres Escobar. Polar opposites, the two share little, except the undying passion for soccer, something that, perhaps tragically, connects the pair in the end. The story examines how Pablo's drug money fueled the Colombian soccer economy and made Colombia into a soccer force during the early 1990s.
At the head of this tour de force was defender Andres Escobar, who saw soccer as a chance to escape poverty and positively promote his country. Andres and fellow teammates embarked on a mission to put Colombia on the top of the soccer world and for the years leading up to the 1994 World Cup they did just that. Suddenly Colombia had become a competitor, and the country had developed a positivie cultural identity through their team and their sport.
This was something that struck me as particularly powerful. Here was a group of 22 soccer players, who through a sport, had put a nation on their back and dragged it to prominence. A nation riddled with drugs and crime, looked upon these 22 as beacons of something bigger, something that could transcend the problems of a nation and put them in the positive world spotlight, something that the people could be proud of. This is exactly what Andres and his teammates did for Colombia. This too is what makes sports such an awesome focus for a story, and perhaps why I have pursued it so. Sports has the ability to create a cultural identity and pride that no political or physical force has been or will be able to create. A passion can bond a people more than any policy, something that even the greatest politicians have realized.
Tragically sports can also be unpredictable and cruel and Andres' case this plays out to the extreme. As a captain of his 1994 World Cup squad, Andres scores an own goal that puts his team out of the Cup and contention. After overcoming the devastation of that moment, he returns home and shortly after is killed in a dispute outside of a nightclub, he was 27 years old. Many of his Colombian players were so distraught they immediately retired from international play, unable to continue without their fallen comrade. With the death of Andres Escobar came the death of the promising Colombian soccer program. Sadly life can sometimes intervene in the purest of passions.
Ironically, and quite poignantly after the fact, Andres' last words to many of his admirers and countrymen came in a newspaper column talking about that fateful own goal. In it he described his deep shame and sadness but also his hope for the future of Colombian soccer. Despite his team's and his nation's setbacks, Andres believed that all was not lost. He ended his piece with a statement that reads beautifully in Spanish but equally as powerful in English. In his final living testimony, Andres said, "porque la vida no termina aqui". Because life doesn't end here.
Now as a followup to that incredible movie, which I hope you will watch (free onDemand until jan 10), I had to make a short documentary this semester for class. Though lacking in the power of these other documentaries, it is my first effort and overall I kind of like it. It follows a unique group of athletes from an art school up the street from my university and I enjoyed their story. Definitely on the lighter side it puts a unique twist on the "jocks vs art kids" stigma. My only regrets from the piece were that I had to cut it down to 15 minutes and that I wasn't allowed to use real music (strictly unregistered and uncopyrighted loops, which are abysmal). Upload is taking forever, so I'll post this and then post the video as soon as it comes through. Ah technology you've trumped me once again...