MAKING THE FILM
It was four a.m.- a cold February morning in 2002. Karin Hayes sat cross-legged on the living room floor of Victoria Bruce's house in Annapolis, Maryland, surrounded by a mountain of rented camera gear and sound equipment. The pair had only been official partners for a couple of weeks, and Hayes was giving Bruce an all-night lecture on how to shoot a documentary. By six a.m., Victoria, an author and journalist with no background in filmmaking, was bleary-eyed, overwhelmed, and boarding a flight to Colombia.
The duo hadn't expected to be so ill prepared. The wheels for a documentary on Ingrid Betancourt were already set in motion. Bruce and Hayes had planned to follow Ingrid as she campaigned for president of Colombia. Victoria met the candidate in January and had been working out the shoot details in early February. But on February 24, Karin and Victoria got word that Ingrid had been kidnapped by the largest guerrilla group in Colombia; the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC).
There was no longer a plan or a story to count on. But Karin and Victoria were compelled to document the extraordinary events however they would unfold. While Victoria landed in Colombia and began filming with a local crew, Karin ran the production from Washington D.C., where she was finishing her contract on a television documentary.
After the initial shoot, Karin and Victoria realized that the story they had planned to tell about a controversial politician risking her life in a dangerous country had completely changed. The film became a story of an incredible family and a fledgling political party thrown into chaos by the brutal circumstances of a lawless country, where a presidential candidate's kidnapping barely makes the news. In May, Bruce and Hayes went back to Colombia, and with their dedicated local crew, documented Ingrid's campaign until May 26, 2002, the day of the Colombian presidential elections, when the candidate entered the Plaza de Bolivar as a cardboard torso held in the arms of her husband and mother.
Victoria and Karin came together as a result their fathers' sixty-year friendship and met in 2001 at a reading for Victoria's first book, No Apparent Danger, (HarperCollins 2001); a story of a volcanic tragedy in Colombia. A former science writer for NASA with a Master's degree in Geology, Victoria had fallen in love with Colombia while researching her book and wanted to return to cover a story about contemporary Colombian life. After meeting Ingrid Betancourt in the U.S. while the presidential candidate promoted her own book, Until Death Do Us Part (HarperCollins, 2002), Victoria felt she had found an extraordinary person with an incredible story about Colombia. She contacted Karin, a UCLA World Arts & Cultures graduate who had worked on documentaries for TLC, and was itching to produce her own films. Within weeks, the two were a team that would take on what became a challenge that neither could have predicted.