by Rob Sykes, contributing blogger
Within hours of the successful rescue of the 33 miners trapped 700 metres below ground in the Atacama Desert close to Copiapó in Northern Chile, speculation was rife about if, and when, a film would be produced. Last week it was announced that already one film is indeed underway; thanks to Colombian Production Company Dynamo Producciones led by executive producer Andrés Calderón and cinematic photographer Alfredo Ruíz who has been in Chile since before the collapse at the entrance to the mine shaft. The parts of the miners are already in the process of being cast, and are expected to be taken by Chileans, with one Bolivian also being cast thus far.
Furthermore, Argentinean company América Video Films has bought the distribution rights for the forthcoming film, with footage being provided by Canal 13 of Chile. Talks are now underway to see the film, which also has the support of Spanish firm Antena 3, sold to distribution companies in much of Europe (with a Scandinavian deal already done), the United States and Japan. And so, without wishing to trivialize the ordeal of the miners involved, South American cinematic productions, with a little help from Spain, are set to back in front of a world audience, following last year´s enormous international success of Oscar nominated ‘El Secreto de sus Ojos’.
Of course, the story of the brave and unfortunate 33 is something rather unique, and for this it has received international news coverage. However, perhaps the expected norm for the reporting of such an event (in my native UK for instance), would be to cover the initial story, and the rescue attempt, and little more. Stories covering the Chilean earthquake were more or less done and dusted in just a couple of days for instance.
However this story seemed to really connect with people the world over, I can certainly vouch for many in my home country, the UK, where countless stories ran for weeks. Countless friends and, let’s be honest, acquaintances, were posting facebook updates related to the story, or using other websites to demonstrate support. Some even confessed to watching nearly 24 hour news coverage of the rescue mission (1 billion people around the world were reported to have seen some coverage). Something not seen in the UK since the now nearly forgotten ‘Big Brother’ was in its heyday. Perhaps, with Britain’s once strong mining tradition, and its related political connotations, the well being of mining communities is an issue which continues to rouse the emotions of the masses. Or, perhaps it was merely the deeply tragic human involvement and potential for the examination of human behaviour in such extreme circumstances (perhaps ‘Big Brother’ will make a comeback!?) which caught the interest.
For whichever reason, or a combination of all, this deeply moving, potentially devastating, but ultimately inspiring and life affirming event, has put another South American story firmly in the minds of a worldwide audience. Whilst surely there is no prize which would make the suffering and hardship of the 33 ‘worth it’, the worldwide interest generated, has at least given South American cinematic production companies the chance to further enhance their reputations. It seems a silver lining may at least be visible around the dark cloud now surrounding the San José gold mine.