On the surface, The Two Escobars is a mesmerizing documentary about the tragic intersection of soccer and the drug trade in Colombia during the 1980s and 1990s. But just below the surface, the film reveals a deeper, personal story about a Colombian society simultaneously enriched and shaken to its core. It re-introduces us to legendary soccer icons, reducing them to emotional figures bearing the unique burden of simply being Colombian and incredibly talented during the rise of narco-soccer (loosely defined as the period when soccer was inextricably tied to and funded by narco-trafficking).
Framed by larger than life figures, drug-kingpin Pablo Escobar, and Colombian soccer player Andrés Escobar, The Two Escobars adds color to an era in Colombian history that, from the outside, could easily be viewed as a period of dramatic wins and losses, but in reality, was saturated with complexity.
I spoke with The Two Escobars co-director Michael Zimbalist about the film. In Part I, we discuss his background, the development of the story, reactions to the film, and begin speaking about his interactions with various figures highlighted in the documentary.