The feature directorial debut of Colombian documentarist Camila Motta, SECUESTRO tells the story of the 1985 kidnapping of her sister, and the tense negotiations that led to her release. Motta combines dramatic recreations of the event with interviews and archival footage to produce a
In 1985, near Bogota, 20-year-old Sylvia Motta was kidnapped. She was held in a small room for three months while her father, businessman Arturo Motta, negotiated a price for her freedom. The initial ransom request was 60 million pesos (around $450,000 at that time); the kidnappers claimed this
sum was based on an extensive study of Motta's assets. Against police advice, Arturo decided to lead the group seeking to secure the best price for his own daughter's release.
SECUESTRO follows these exciting negotiations. A stylized recreation of the kidnapping is intercut with transcripts of telephone discussions and interviews with the hostage, her family and friends, policemen, and even one of the kidnappers. In counterpoint, impressionistic images of Colombia
underscore that country's vastly unequal distribution of wealth. Sylvia Motta was eventually released for a ransom of 10 million pesos. Her gang of kidnappers went free at the time, but were later caught during another abduction.
Kidnappings are common in Colombia--one occurs every seven hours--and SECUESTRO tries to place these crimes in the context of Latin America's shocking disparity between rich and poor, as well as its recent history of political violence. While some kidnappers are revolutionaries (or at least
pretend to be), others, to whom political or social causes mean nothing, are seduced into kidnapping schemes with the promise of houses, cars, and vacations in exotic locations. Industrialist Arturo Motta treats his daughter's kidnapping as primarily a business matter. He engineers Sylvia's
release in much the same way as any business deal, strategizing about the negotiations, boasting that his original offer was only four percent of the kidnappers' original request, even referring to his daughter as "the merchandise."
Despite such moments of political insight, and although it's beautifully shot by Barry Ellsworth and superbly edited by Holly Fisher, SECUESTRO never really transcends the thrill of the chase and the satisfaction felt by Arturo and the authorities as the puzzle is fitted together piece-by-piece.
And Sylvia Motta, the victim who spent three months chained to a bed in a small room, somehow gets lost in the shuffle.
Cast & Details See all »
- Released: 1994
- Rating: NR
- Review: The feature directorial debut of Colombian documentarist Camila Motta, SECUESTRO tells the story of the 1985 kidnapping of her sister, and the tense negotiations that led to her release. Motta combines dramatic recreations of the event with interviews and… (more)