THE TWO ESCOBARS

Directed by Jeff Zimbalist and Michael Zimbalist

Two Escobars uplifted the Colombian soccer team from obscurity. Andres Escobar as team captain. Pablo Escobar as the drug lord in the shadows. They shared a name and a violent fate. Andres » Pablo »

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About The Two Escobars

Film Summary

While rival drug cartels warred in the streets and the country's murder rate climbed to highest in the world, the Colombian national soccer team set out to blaze a new image for their country. What followed was a mysteriously rapid rise to glory, as the team catapulted out of decades of obscurity to become one of the best teams in the world. Central to this success were two men named Escobar: Andrés, the captain and poster child of the National Team, and Pablo, the infamous drug baron who pioneered the phenomenon known in the underworld as "Narco-soccer." But just when Colombia was expected to win the 1994 World Cup and transform its international image, the shocking murder of Andres Escobar dashed the hopes of a nation.

Through the glory and the tragedy, The Two Escobars daringly investigates the secret marriage of crime and sport, and uncovers the surprising connections between the murders of Andres and Pablo.

Director's Take

Our films tend to focus on disenfranchised communities in the process of rising up and transforming their political and economic circumstances. We choose these stories due to the scale of their historic importance -- this is where societies are shaped.

By comparison, sports have often felt like mere diversion, games limited to the playing field. At times, we have both drifted from the passion for sports we shared as young athletes and fans, engaging ourselves in other endeavors as seasons of professional competition passed by.

Then, invariably, definitive moments in sports history would grab our attention and turn our logic upside down. Like in 1994, when an athlete named Andres Escobar was murdered for accidentally scoring an own goal that cost the Colombian National Team a chance at winning the World Cup and transforming its negative image on the international stage. Here was a country with a national identity so integrally connected to the success of its soccer team that one mistake on a playing field dashed the pride of an entire nation and cost a man his life.

Looking into the incident, we learned that the dramatic rise and fall of Colombian soccer was inextricably tied to the rise and fall of Pablo Escobar's Medellín Drug Cartel, considered by many the 'ruling party' of Colombia at the time. Sport in Colombia was not only mirroring the personality and politics of society, but also an inseparable part of that society - the playing field an extension of the streets and offices where influential decisions are made.

On our journey through diverse walks of Colombian society during production, it became clear that this was far from a classic "deal-with-the-devil" narrative. Rather, this was the story of the passions and dreams of a people intrinsically tied to the rise and fall of a team. Stories such as this revive our childhood fascination with sports and confirm the fundamental role they play in shaping our world.

What's Everyone Saying?

Jeff Zimbalist and Mike Zimbalist

Jeff and Michael are Emmy Award nominated writers, directors, and editors whose films have been broadcast on HBO, MTV, PBS, Channel 4 UK, the BBC, and BET, as well as theatrically distributed throughout North America, Europe, South America, Australia and Asia.

"Favela Rising," which Jeff directed, shot, edited and produced, was shortlisted for the Academy Award for Best Feature Length Documentary in 2005, and among the 36 international awards it has won are Film of the Year by the International Documentary Association, Best Film at the Sydney International Film Festival and Leeds International Film Festival, as well as Best Director at the Tribeca Film Festival. "Favela Rising" was theatrically exhibited in five continents, held over in theaters in the United Kingdom for six months, and theatrically released by ThinkFilm and HBO in 34 cities in North America.

Jeff and Michael's production company, All Rise Films, is a Ford Foundation grantee and has produced award-winning documentaries on third world development issues for clients such as the United Nations, the World Bank, the Inter-American Development Bank, and the John Templeton Foundation. Recently, All Rise finished a four part series for the Sundance Channel. The brothers' segment on The Addiction Project, HBO's 14-part series on drug abuse, continues to broadcast on HBO.

Jeff graduated magna cum laude from Brown University with honors in Art Semiotics and Modern Culture and Media, and a concentration in Latin American Studies. Michael graduated with honors from Wesleyan University and trained as an actor at New York University's Tisch School of the Arts.

Produced and Directed by:

Jeff Zimbalist
Michael Zimbalist

Executive Producers:

Keith Clinkscales
John Dahl
Joan Lynch
Connor Schell
Bill Simmons
John Skipper
John Walsh

Producer:

Dan Silver

Original Score

Ion Furjanic

Editor:

Jeff Zimbalist
Greg O'Toole

Cinematography:

Jeff Zimbalist

Written by:

Michael Zimbalist
Jeff Zimbalist

Original Concept by:

Nick Sprague

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