Kidnap Capital (2016) – Fantasia Festival 2016 – Jim Morazzini


Although it’s best known for it’s horror, science fiction and fantasy films, Montreal’s Fantasia Festival also screens it’s share of films from other genres, such as Kidnap Capital, a gritty crime drama about human trafficking and illegal immigrants.

The directorial debut of Felipe Rodriguez who also wrote the script, Kidnap Capital deals with gangs who kidnap, (mostly), illegal immigrants and force they’re families to ransom them. The film deals with a group being held in the basement of a house in Phoenix AZ allegedly the city where most of these gangs operate. Several of them, realizing that with nobody to bail them out they face certain death, must fight back to try and survive.

Filmed on a shoestring budget the film makes the most of very limited locations, something that actually works to its advantage. Keeping it to one group in one house gives the film a claustrophobic feel which helps build the tension and suspense to at times nerve wracking levels. This is not a film for the easily upset or unnerved, it is a grim and brutal affair that will keep you on the edge of your seat, proof you don’t need a large budget or lots of fancy locations to make an effective film.

Although this is his first film as writer and/or director Rodriguez has a long list of credits as a key grip and other tech positions which helped the film in two ways. His work on Wetback: The Undocumented Documentary had him traveling with a group of illegal migrants from Nicaragua to the US and gave him an insight into the people, what drives them to risk everything to come here, and what can happen to them once they get here. It gives the film a sense of reality that helps bring it above the level of just another crime film.

It also helped him make the film look so much better than you would expect from a film shot on such a low budget, it even took the award for best cinematography at the Manchester Film Festival. The film looks very well done and is not what you expect when you think of a low budget indie. Rodriguez and his crew have made every dollar count here, what he could do with a bigger budget should be impressive. The film has gotten him some tv work to help sharpen his skills, hopefully he’ll be back with another film soon.

The film has deservedly done well on the festival circuit, taking the Chairman’s Award at the San Diego Film Festival and Best Non-European Feature Film at the The European Independent Film Festival along with several other awards and nominations. It seems a natural to do well in a limited theatrical and VOD release in the hands of the right distributor. Hopefully the exposure it gets at Fantasia will help it find that distributor.