Toward Darkness: Starring America (Ugly Betty): Ferrera

In an impressive departure from Ugly Betty, America Ferrera stars in Towards Darkness [“Hacia La Oscuridad), a fact-based story on the filmmakers own family kidnappings. The film debuts on DVD July 22 from Peace Arch Entertainment.

Towards Darkness is a bilingual thriller set in the all-too-real kidnapping business that plagues the Latin American country of Colombia. Young writer-director Antonio Negret debut is a thriller that eschews stereotypes and moralism, presenting a portrait of Colombia as a vibrant nation of resilience and exuberance, plagued by extortion and turmoil.

The film is inspired by his own true experience with kidnappings in Colombia. At various times, three of his family members were kidnapped: the first was somewhat quickly returned after a ransom was paid off; after several months, the second was finally found after a nationwide manhunt and the kidnappers were arrested. Then, about a year later, yet another family member was kidnapped. Unfortunately, his fate was even darker. He was murdered. The family was informed that it was dangerous to investigate who did it, as it could put other family members at risk. That feeling of helplessness, along with the charged emotions from the previous rescue, was the basis and soul behind Towards Darkness.

In the film, Jos (Roberto Urbina), a photographer, lives abroad in New York. While visiting his family back home for the Christmas holidays, he is reunited with a streetwise old flame (America Ferrera) and reacquainted with the casual violence that mars his country. Within days of his return, Jos is beaten and kidnapped, his captors demanding an exorbitant ransom from his parents. Aware that the local police would do more harm than good, Jose’s frantic parents enlist the aid of a covert American special operations team to recover their son alive. Jose’s father (Tony Plana) is soon forced to make an unsavory deal with a Colombian warlord in order to secure the million-dollar payment. Meanwhile, Jose remains bound, gagged and blindfolded in an abandoned warehouse in the rainforest, contemplating what he assumes is his imminent murder. The lives and back stories of various characters converge in a slick non-linear narrative that humanizes each one: from the rescuer (David Sutcliffe) looking for redemption for a past killing, to the kidnappers driven to crime out of pure desperation.

The feature is also based on Negrets award-winning short film “Darkness Minus Twelve”, which also starred America Ferrera. The short received several awards including the National Association of Latino Independent Producers Audience Award, St. Petersburg Message to Man Honorable Mention Award, Renegade Film Festival Grand Prize, and Orinda Film Festival Audience Award.

Towards Darkness had its world premiere as an Official Selection at the 2007 Tribeca Film Festival before a successful theatrical release.

In addition to Ferrera, the film also stars Roberto Urbina, David Sutcliffe, Tony Plana (who plays Americas father on Ugly Betty), Cameron Daddo, William Atherton and Alejandra Borrero. The producers are Craig Anderson and Luiza Ricupero, and the executive producers are America Ferrera, Brett Etre, Justin Goodman, Randy Holleschau, Daniel Negret and Alex Yanev.

The DVD includes the following Special Features:

The Original Short Film That Inspired the Film–“Darkness Minus Twelve.”
The Making of Towards Darkness
Color Grading Featurette

Street Date: July 22, 2008