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On Drugs and Soccer: 'The Two Escobars' Screens at the Kabuki This Friday

Coming this week to the Sundance Kabuki Cinemas: Bay Area filmmakers Michael and Jeff Zimbalist take on the world of Colombian “narco-soccer” in a powerful story of both tragedy and hope in their new film, The Two Escobars.

The film, which opens on August 27 after hugely successful premiers at the Tribeca and Cannes film festivals, explores the seedy connections between the Colombian national soccer team and the drug cartels whose money made the team the star of South America, favored to win the 1994 World Cup. The “two Escobars” are former soccer star Andrés and drug kingpin Pablo, unrelated by blood but inextricably related nonetheless. Their story, resulting in Andrés’ tragic death, illustrates the dangerous connection between sports, crime, and politics in Colombia. This film seeks to explore the nation’s hopeful climb to safer ground.

Filmmakers (and brothers) Michael and Jeff first became interested in this story while filming another project in Colombia, The Scribe of Urabá. Always interested in inspirational stories of communities coming together, they had little indication when first tackling this story of crime and corruption that it would eventually lead them exactly where they felt most comfortable.

“Andrés Escobar lifted the veil of the institution of Colombian soccer,” the brothers said, explaining the silver lining of the tragedy their film explores. Even something as patriotic as soccer was not free of the drug money that dominated much of Colombia’s society at the time, especially with someone as wealthy and powerful as Pablo at the helm.

Andrés’ longtime message was one of honesty. He longed for the day that soccer would divorce itself from the influence of cartel money, for the day that his sport would be run in a way consistent with the pure sense of team spirit and competition he held so true to his heart. After Andrés’ murder, the Colombian nation took his message to heart and slowly separated itself from the pollution of the drug world.

“It was important to us that The Two Escobars represent a country improving, slowly but sustainably overcoming violence and corruption,” the Zimbalists said.

The film, hailed “a saga of Shakespearean proportions” by the Huffington Post, will only be playing in San Francisco for a week. So clear your schedule now and head over to sffs.org to purchase tickets.