We chose the story of La Montaña much like choosing a random surprise out of a magician’s hat. There were dozens of stories to choose from and though it certainly seemed by chance at the time, we chose to tell the unlikely story of two enemies that changed the fate of a Mountain. Little did we know how this story would from then on consume our days and nights for years or how attached we would become to each one of its characters. We set out to prove wrong all the voices that said a movie couldn’t be made without money, experience, connections in the industry, or expensive equipment. And we did. Filmed with one photographic camera, a cast and crew who had never before worked on a feature film and only enough money for food and gas, La Montaña was filmed in one of the most beautiful, pristine locations in the world. Its photography is breathtaking and a true tribute to the majestic mountain where our story takes place.
Perhaps rather naively we expected support, help, even excitement from our new “peers” in the Colombian film industry. This was a new type of story, one that built up our country instead of tear it down; one that showed its beauty with fantastic colors instead of using its all too well-known problems to gain a few bucks for some producers at the price of once again thrashing our country’s reputation. At least we expected anything other than blatant rejection. We were destined to find our support outside the finely confined quarters of the established cinematographic community.
The Colombian Army came to our aid providing uniforms, weaponry, acting personnel and security for our crew. Illegal guerrilla and paramilitary groups voiced their support and approval of La Montaña claiming that for the first time someone was interested in portraying them veridically. The community of the Mountain, thrashed and misused, true victims of this senseless war, took this opportunity to speak out and show the world their good-heartedness and talent: the true unexploited wealth of this region. And above all, we found the unconditional support of friends and family. Our friends, brothers, cousins, aunts and uncles all unconditionally served as cast, crew, kitchen and more. Almost one year of long days and nights after its filming, La Montaña was ready to be shown to our first audience. With no distribution plan we did not know how fast or with what force it would spread. Above all, we had no idea of how deeply it would touch people or how strongly they would identify with our story. I could have never foreseen the conviction with which our audiences would weep or the abandonment with which they would laugh. And we certainly could have never planned the timeliness of this story in relation to what is and has happened recently in the nation of Colombia. Perhaps, after all, La Montaña was not chosen by mere chance.
What’s left to be said, although it will never suffice, is thank you. We thank God for all of you who worked with us tirelessly without remuneration and for all the new friends we have made thanks to this project, especially Daniela. Our parents could have well deservingly used their savings on themselves buying a vacation, a new home somewhere or a retirement plan. But they invested every last personal cent they had in making this, our dream, come true. They decisively supported us emotionally and financially for years. Our brothers Dylan and Russell, both actors in the film, have ever been enthusiastic and of great help. Our dear friends and co-producers of La Montaña, Alex and Fernando, have walked by our side through the roughest patches and have been on many occasions our hands, legs, eyes and ears.
There is no greater reward than knowing that your children value, enjoy and understand what you do, especially when many times it means hours or days away from their mother. Thank you to La Montaña’s greatest little fans, Gabriella and Isaac. The biggest honor in my life is to be married to my best friend, the lead role of this film, who did, without a doubt, the most extraordinary job and has supported me without hesitation for years. And last, but in all things concerning La Montaña first, my sister Alethia who was the driving force and heart behind this whole endeavor. Talented, strong-willed and brave she made all this happen.
La Montaña was made with the help and in honor of all the men, women and children affected by this war in Colombia. It is our collective accomplishment, the voice of Colombia asking God for the resounding end of war and a new era of peace for our country.
Lisa StendalCo-Writer/Director/Producer La Montaña