Film News

Son of Escobar pleas for peace in Sundance film

PARK CITY, Utah (Reuters) - When you are a boy and your father steals money from the Monopoly board game just to beat you, you have a problem. When your father also is Colombian drug kingpin Pablo Escobar, you have a real problem.

Sebastian Marroquin, son of deceased Colombian drug lord Pablo Escobar Gaviria, speaks during an interview in Buenos Aires, November 6, 2009. REUTERS/Enrique Marcarian

But Juan Pablo Escobar never knew anything but love for his father, who was gunned down in 1993 by government troops on a rooftop in the cocaine capital of Medellin when Juan Pablo was 16.

Documentary “Sins of My Father” has fascinated audiences this week at the Sundance Film Festival with its tale of Juan Pablo and sons of Colombian politicians who are burdened with their fathers’ legacies.

Juan Pablo, who lives in Argentina under the alias Sebastian Marroquin, still cannot return permanently to his homeland. While he once vowed to avenge his father’s death by killing his family’s enemies, he now says he wants peace.

Yet, to hear “Sins of My Father” director Nicolas Entel tell it, few people in Colombia, where the movie has already played, want to hear talk of reconciliation.

“Colombia’s establishment -- for lack of a better word -- is not ready to have a serious conversation about Pablo Escobar because the connections between Pablo Escobar and politicians and businessmen and the powerful in Colombia have never been investigated,” Entel said.

The director, who is from Argentina and lives in New York, said the movie sold about 40,000 tickets in Colombia, a sum he called respectable. It received mixed comments initially, he said, before coming under attack in the media.

“Sins of My Father” will soon play in Spain, Germany, France and Britain. For U.S. audiences, it will air on cable TV network HBO, serving up a lesson in the culture of the South American country that receives billions of dollars from the United States in mostly military aid to fight drug trafficking and other ills.


Entel’s movie begins with the tale of Escobar stealing Monopoly money just so he could ensure victory in the game against his own family. It details his rise to folk hero status in the 1970s and 1980s -- making money in cocaine trafficking, then building housing and soccer fields for poor workers.

Escobar enters politics, and until rivals come along to expose his drug-dealing, he seems headed for greater power.

In 1993, he is killed by government troops and Juan Pablo vows vengeance. Yet, when a $4 million bounty is put on the son’s life, he escapes to Argentina, changes his name, gets an education and, eventually, renounces his father’s deeds.

Entel said the story of Escobar and how, as an adult, Sebastian Marroquin dealt with his legacy fascinated the director because it combines his obsessions with politics and culture.

Entel spent four years following Marroquin as he went public, reached out to the sons of Colombian politicians who, presumably, were assassinated by drug lords, and met with them.

Marroquin and the others seem able to forgive each another for their fathers’ deeds, but whether the country will ever reconcile itself with Marroquin remains an open question.

“Colombia is a country where violence is passed from generation to generation, you kill me, so my brother goes and tries to kill you,” Entel said.

There is some hope, however. Entel said that when he set out to make the documentary, having all the sons meet in Colombia seemed impossible, yet it happened.

(Editing by Mohammad Zargham)

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