'Antanas Way' tells the intimate story of Antanas Mockus eight-week campaign to the Colombian Presidency and the dynamics that this unique way of doing politics unleashed in a country just going out of four decades of war.
For a few months, Mockus’s innovative campaign threatened Colombia’s political status quo. The idea that life and public resources are sacred and that obeying the law can be the way for a country whose destiny has been tarnished by the mafia, ignited a social movement without precedent in the country. This film is the story of an open-source campaign with Mockus's post-modern vision as the code for a country that allowed itself to dream
With the privileged access granted by the candidate, this movie followed in the fly-on-the wall style his unique campaing, the sort of dilemmas he faced regarding advertising, debate planning, endorsements, political strategies and reactions to the dirty campaing started by opponents. On the other hand, the film documents the social movement created around his campaing, the frenzy in social networks, the flashmobs and in general, the passion felt by young people around this eccentric candidate.
The film starts with an ultra-close up of Antanas Mockus in his house with his wife and children preparing himself for the first political rally of his campaign and ends with his defeat in the run-off by the Establishment candidate. The film is the testimony of everything that happened in between.
The narrative of this campaign and of this documentary is the story of David Vs. Goliat.
It is the story of an outsider who became a politician after having ridiculed himself by “mooning” on TV when as principal of the main public university he showed his butt to hundreds of art students who wouldn´t let him talk.
Mockus, the son of Lithuanian immigrants, a philosopher and mathematician, challenged Juan Manuel Santos, one of the owners of the biggest media conglomerate El Tiempo and one of the best exponents of the political establishment and social elite of this country.
As the documentary starts, Mockus has five-percent in the polls. After being a two-times successful Mayor of Bogotá, he had become politically irrelevant. But he teamed with three other successful former Mayors and started a very creative campaign with a pencil and a sunflower as symbols, then people started noticing him. That is when the Green Wave movement started to gain traction and his numbers to soar in the polls.
Few weeks before election day, Mockus was ten points ahead of Santos. The Establishment panicked. A dirty campaign against Mockus started, with rumors circulating in Internet about his atheism, about his intention to close the government’s social programs for the poor, about his intention to extradite President Uribe among others. Mockus also started making lots of gaffes. And one week before election he was in a technical tie with Santos, and all the polls showed that in the run-off he would win. But on election day, other was the result. Mockus lost by 25 points.
After all the deception, that the documentary will show, in the three-weeks run off, Mockus’s volunteers try to make the last effort going to poor neighborhoods and rural areas, but Santos wins by a landslide.
The director, Margarita Martinez, co-directed “La Sierra,” nominated in the category of best documentary at the Independent Spirit Awards in 2006. In its theatrical release in the US, the New York Times described the film as: “A courageous documentary,”. She premiered her second feature length documentary “Stolen Land” or “Robatierra” at HotDocs in Toronto in May 2010, about the struggle for land of the second largest indigenous group in Colombia. Stolen Land won the Telesur Award at the Havana Film Festival 2010.
Margarita Martínez, covered Colombia’s war for the Associated Press from 1999 to 2006. She received a masters’ degree in journalism and international affairs from Columbia University in New York. She was a Nieman Fellow at Harvard University in 2009. She is considered one of the best Latin American documentary film makers.
Juanita León, was born in Colombia and has a M.S. from the Graduate School of Journalism at Columbia University. She was also a Nieman Fellow in 2007. In 2004 she published No somos muchos pero somos machos (a compilation of stories on civil resistance by Colombian indigenous people and Mayor Antanas Mockus in Bogotá). And País de plomo. Crónicas de Guerra [Country of Bullets. War Diaries], which was awarded the prestigious Lettre Ulysses Award for the art of reportage (3rd prize). With an Open Society grant Ms León founded lasillavacia.com, the most prestigious political web site in Colombia. This is the first documentary she produces.
Gabriel Baudet, works since 1996 as a professional editor for film, TV (Rai, Studio Universal, Mediaset), video and marketting. He has worked in Italy, Cuba, Mexico and is now living in Colombia. He has edited several long feature films.
More than a film about a politician, Antanas’ Way is about the passion and enthusiasm among average Colombians – especially young people - for a presidential candidate in who was more of an artist and an anti-politician. This type of buzz and excitement surrounding a Colombian presidential candidate hadn´t been seen in decades. It was the first time I witnessed a true awakening among Colombians who dreamed of a better country and decided their participation in politcs was vital. Historically, voter apathy is high in Colombia with more people staying home than going to the polls on election day.
Rather than simply documenting a campaign, I tried to focus on the magic, the dreams, the creativity, the values and the innovation that The Green Party, the “green wave” movement and Antanas Mockus brought to Colombian politics.
First, the transparency. No other political campaign would have given us the type of access we got with Mockus. And rather than “the ends justifies the means,” the campaign’s view was that following a principled course of action was every bit as important as the final result. To watch them struggling to remain true to this ideal during a hard-fought campaign was incredible.
In Colombia, there is a deep-rooted culture of legal short-cuts and a flaunting of the law. So, for a presidential candidate to proclaim that illegality is the root of our problems and to actually live his life by this credo was surprising and refreshing.
No. The documentary is an intimate, behind-the-scenes portrait of the Mockus presidential campaign. It has a point of view, but it’s a work of journalism. At the premiere last week in Bogota, several activists from the rival campaign told me it was balanced.
Oh yes. I also felt the passion and the fervor and had the feeling that my voice could help change the course of this country.
Before the campaign kicked off, I filmed a short piece about Mockus’ Green Party for the political Web site www.lasillavacia.com. After Mockus won the Green Party presidential primary, there was something special in the air. It seemed like Mockus had a real chance to win the 2010 elections and that masses of people were getting involved in politics for the first time in their lives. A few weeks later, I asked Mockus and his wife for permission to document the campaign. They accepted, we quickly secured financial backing for the project, and the cameras started rolling. We filmed for 10 straight weeks leading up to the June 20 runoff.
After the first round, it was obvious that Mockus didn’t stand a chance in the runoff against Juan Manuel Santos, who was elected president. So, we kept our “fly-on-the wall” approach to the Mockus campaign but we also started interviewing more people from the Santos campaign as well as political analysts about why Mockus and the Green Party were faltering.
I have several ideas for documentaries. Now, that I’ve finished Antanas’ Way, I will have more time to explore these ideas
Open Society Institute
Fundación Liderazgo y Democracia