TV Series on Rescue of Betancourt and Americans Selling Well

By Dialogo
May 27, 2010

The film version of the rescue of Ingrid Betancourt, three Americans, and eleven Colombian uniformed personnel, brought to television in a Spanish production, is a sales success even before hitting the airwaves, according to the Caracol television network, which is commercializing it in Latin America. “We’ve just finished presenting the series ‘Operación Jaque’ [Operation Jaque] at the Los Angeles fair, and we’ve concluded pre-sale-phase agreements with producers from Mexico, Ecuador, Panama, Peru, Venezuela, and all of Central America. I’m waiting for the final report, but the series has already been sold practically throughout Latin America,” Angélica Guerra said. Guerra, vice-president of Caracol Internacional, affirmed to AFP that the series based on the 1 July 2008 rescue of fifteen FARC hostages in the jungles of southern Colombia “has been one of the products with the biggest impact among our international clients.” “The series was filmed on location, has first-rate actors, and has an impressive realism that allows the viewer to get close to the drama that the kidnapping victims lived through in a detailed narration,” she emphasized. The series will not be the official version of events, but will recount other experiences of the hostages and their captors in the inhospitable jungle, including disputes, rivalries, and even love among the protagonists, according to a source close to the production. The series, currently in post-production, was produced by the Colombian firm Paraíso Picture and financed by Televisión Española. Its debut is planned for September. “In Spain two specials will be presented in movie format, while in Latin America there will be four episodes,” the source added. Directed by Spaniard Silvia Quer, the television version of ‘Operación Jaque’ opens with Ingrid Betancourt’s arrival in a location in southern Colombia - at the time a demilitarized zone ceded by the government to rebel control - where she is kidnapped. “From there, the series narrates in detail the entire process of Ingrid’s kidnapping. The relationship with (her fellow former hostages) Clara Rojas, Luis Eladio Pérez, and the three American contractors. And then the rescue, narrated in great detail,” Guerra specified. But this is not going to be the only television series based on the rescue operation. According to Juan Carlos Torres, author of the book recounting the official version of the operation, the American broadcaster Telemundo has acquired the rights to his text in order to bring it to the small screen. “I’m pleased that these series are being made. Filming Operation Jaque is a recognition of our military personnel and our government for having planned down to the millimeter this successful rescue in which not a drop of blood was shed,” Torres told AFP. More than 30,000 copies of the book have been sold in nine countries, and a French translation is about to appear. Colombian television series - the majority of which include drug trafficking and its eccentricities among their subjects - have become increasingly popular worldwide and have opened a door for the country to international television, with multiplying sales on five continents, according to Caracol and RCN, two firms providing television programming. Series like ‘El Capo’ [The Boss], ‘Las Muñecas de la Mafia’ [Mafia Dolls], ‘El Cartel de los Sapos’ [Toad Cartel] in its two versions, ‘Sin Tetas no hay Paraíso’ [Without Breasts, There’s No Paradise], and ‘Pandillas: Guerra y Paz’ [Gangs: War and Peace] are shown to the Hispanic audience in the United States and to markets in Eastern Europe, Africa, and Asia. The French-Colombian politician Ingrid Betancourt, forty-eight years old, was kidnapped and held for more than six years by the rebel Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC).