• Golden Globe Awards

Dark Blood (Colombia)

“I know this one takes place in Colombia but you are right, it really represents what is going on around the world and America.”
With those words, John Leguizamo summed up Dark Blood, Colombian director Harold Trompetero’s drama about a man who copes with his new life of abuse and humiliation in prison while dealing with tragedy, sorrow and the repercussions of his crimes on his family.
Leguizamo plays Misael, a father who is imprisoned for a violent revenge act.  A Spanish-language film with English subtitles, Dark Blood also stars Adriana Barraza, 2007 Golden Globe Best Supporting Actress nominee for Babel, and Alvaro Rodriguez, as the prison head guard from hell.
“We shot in a real prison that was defunct outside of Bogota,” Leguizamo said in a Zoom press conference with the HFPA last October. “A lot of the extras were ex-prisoners from that very same prison, who had been rehabilitated and lived in the same community.”
“They came in and became our consultants. So that was a great way of including the ex-con population of that town – to make them extras, pay and feed them, make them consultants, and make them feel important”, he said. “Because the prison system should be about healing and rehabilitation. This story, to me, was really important because it’s a story of mortality and what are our values, what will you do to protect your son, what is just and what is not just.”
Trompetero, one of Colombia’s leading directors (Violet of a Thousand Colors, Diastoles y Sistole: Los Movimientos Del Corazon, Riverside), also wrote the script with Jeiver Pinto and Gerardo Pinzon.
Although these filmmakers depict the grim and brutal conditions in prisons, they counterbalance the violence and cruelty with Misael’s finding solace in Sarna, a dog who lives in the prison and helps him survive the atrocities.
“It’s the power of human beings to survive,” John said. “It’s not just food and water. You also need love to survive, to keep hope alive in you.”
“And this man finds it in this dog. It’s not a single occurrence. It has happened many times in the history of prison life that people found solace in a bird or a rodent.”
To prepare for the role of a prisoner who is viciously treated, Leguizamo lost a lot of weight. He visited the biggest prison in Bogota to do research. Leguizamo’s performance in Dark Blood is considered an important addition to the work of the Bogota, Colombia-born actor.
A 1996 Golden Globe Best Supporting Actor nominee for his portrayal of a drag queen in To Wong Foo, Thanks for Everything! Julia Newmar, John went on to win an Emmy for Freak and a special Tony Award for his body of work in theater.
Released as Perros in Colombia, Dark Blood debuted in the United States this year. Trompetero, who directed several comedies, welcomed the chance to film a drama.
In an interview with The Bogota Post, the filmmaker said, “It was almost a cathartic job. After so much laughter, creating something so heartbreaking is amazing. People forget that the most important films of my career are Violeta De Mil Colores, Riverside and Locos, which are very visceral and deep. Perros became my personal artistic project that was being created in parallel to the other movies. It is a tremendous drama that mourns and brings people to tears.”