Sundance Film Festival Review: Sins of My Father

by Whitney Borup

2009sinsofmyfatherMy soda intake this last week has been out of control. I never thought I’d say this, but I think a steady diet of diet, caffeinated, carbonated beverages may be medically harmful. It’s certainly not good for you, and I realized just how dependent I was this morning when I tried to watch the film “Sins of My Father.”

This documentary from Argentina was definitely hurt by my lack of caffeine, but this mild drug wasn’t the only thing to blame for putting me to sleep. “Sins of My Father” has an excellent premise: Pablo Escobar’s son speaks about his father publicly for the first time since the drug lord’s death in 1993. In order to assuage his guilty conscious and pave the way for peace in Columbia, Escobar Jr. (who has changed his name to Sebastian Marroquin) tries to apologize to the sons of the men his father had killed.

Pablo Escobar was a criminal. But he also helped his community by buying housing projects and soccer fields for the poor. Most importantly to this film, he was also a husband and father. Sebastian talks about his views of his father, whom he still loves, and how his feelings have been complicated by the nasty things his father did. Director Nicolas Entel also interviews the sons of assassinated Columbian politicians Luis Carlos Galan and Rodrigo Lara Bonilla to obtain personal, subjective views of the story of Escabar’s rise to power on both sides. The main draw of the film is the effect their fathers had on all of these sons’ lives. While Galan and Bonilla’s can live with the pride of their fathers’ martyrdom, Marroquin suffers as though he were the criminal.


While Entel had access to the home movies of the Escobars, there doesn’t seem to be much there of interest. The story of Escobar is told mostly through stock footage filmed by news crews in Columbia, which is often shaky and dull. Using subjective voices to tell the story of a notorious criminal is a compelling idea in theory, but in practice, these relatives don’t have much to tell outside of what was already known about Columbian crime. Without the false tension created by Marroquin’s apology at the end of the film, “Sins of My Father” is simply a biography without any expert testimony. And because of the repetitious editing of Marroquin’s feelings, this biography gives us a lot of information we’ve already heard; it just gives us that information a little more slowly.

Sins of My Father

Directed: Nicolas Entel
Written: Nicolas Entel and Pablo Farina
Argentina, 94 min.

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