THE BOLIVIAN CASE | REVIEW

The peeps at WordStormPR got in touch and asked if we would be interested in reviewing a powerful documentary called THE BOLIVIAN CASE, a documentary that looks at legal outcomes on three teenage drug smugglers in Bolivia based on their gender, race, colour and level of beauty. An intriguing case, and who better to cover this review than our own legal eagle and book addicted reviewer Kernel Fiona Fyfe. THE BOLIVIAN CASE actually screened yesterday in the Sydney Film Festival as part of the Australian Documentary Competition for the Documentary Australia Foundation Award and we wish it the best of luck, HUGE docco competition this year. If the movie and the case interest you please follow them and/ or read more HERE or on their Facebook Page. THE BOLIVIAN CASE has a festival rating and runs for 75mins and now enjoy Fi’s review……..all the best…….JK.

 

THE BOLIVIAN CASE MOVIE POSTER IMAGE
THE BOLIVIAN CASE | SALTY POPCORN MOVIE REVIEW | MOVIE POSTER IMAGE

 

BY FIONA FYFE

This doco-drama chronicles the story of three Norwegian girls who are caught trying to smuggle 22kg of cocaine out of Bolivia. Thanks to intense media hype, their arrests soon becomes the Nordic version of the Schapelle Corby case except this time there are three attractive defendants.

The movie starts by introducing us to Madelaine. She’s on holiday in Bolivia with her two year old daughter and her two friends, Stina and Christina who just happen to be lesbian partners. Stina’s brother is the father of Madelaine’s young child and so the two are family of sorts. When the three are intercepted at La Paz Airport and a quantity of cocaine is found in their suitcases, they find themselves locked up in a Bolivian prison.

Race, background and social standing play a large part in who is afforded leniency and who is left to sink or swim on their own merits. Madelaine’s child is taken from her and sent back to Norway. Understandably this causes her a lot of angst and we see her recording teary messages via web cam trying to explain that she will be home as soon as she can.

Blonde and voluptuous Stina becomes the darling of the Norwegian media and the “it” girl for jail birds. Advised by her lawyer, Jesus to dress down she ignores this as it turns out, not so timely advice and can’t help but glam herself up complete with high heels and trowel loads of make-up. Stina never really seems too phased by her predicament and spends a lot of time hamming it up for the cameras. She out-does herself by deliberately falling pregnant to another inmate and then posing nude and round in the guard’s office. Eat your heart out Mercedes Corby.

 

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THE BOLIVIAN CASE | SALTY POPCORN MOVIE REVIEW | MADELAINE, STINA, CHRISTINA IMAGE

 

Madelaine and Stina are a bit put out when Christina’s parents post $40,000 bail and she is allowed out to await trial. Along with the bail money they must have paid a hefty sum for her legal representative who proves himself to be a ruthless mouthpiece, courting the media while at the same time selling the other two defendants down the river. Eventually a back yard deal is brokered with the Norwegian consulate and Christina is issued with a fake passport and is smuggled out across the Chilean border and home to Norway.

Next up is Stina, whose mother resembles a weathered Barbie doll and comes to her daughter’s and grandson’s rescue by also posting bail to the tune of $60,000. Stina laps up the media attention she receives on her release and poses at various locations around town, showing off her baby and enjoying the B-grade royalty status. Soon, we see her dyeing her hair a dodgy shade of brown, donning a head scarf and courtesy of ALFA magazine, she boards a private jet to Brazil, rides through the jungle on a motor bike, catches a small boat and finally heads home to Norway. In exchange for the rights to her story, ALFA’s editors have paid the whopping sum of $320,000 to smuggle this wench out of Bolivia.

In the meantime it is poor Madelaine – pregnant again to some Colombian guy – who takes the rap. She looks set to be sentenced to thirteen years for trafficking. Not to mention that she experiences complications with her pregnancy and is rushed to hospital under armed-guard to give birth prematurely, by C-section whilst clamped in leg irons. It truly is like a dystopian nightmare. Orwell couldn’t have done a better job just proving that truth really is stranger than fiction.

 

THE BOLIVIAN CASE STINA BRENDEMO IMAGE
THE BOLIVIAN CASE | SALTY POPCORN MOVIE REVIEW | STINA BRENDEMO

 

There are other players involved in the cocaine trafficking – August who is the king pin or the Andrew Chan of the saga and who eventually cops it sweet re a lengthy sentence and his girlfriend Nicole who is tried and found guilty in Norway. Two money changers and bit players, Norwegians, Christopher and Oskar are also on trial although you have to ask how performing a Western Union transfer could land you in the midst of a drug trial facing years behind bars. In the end the media comes into play by seizing on Christopher’s marketability and potential as a Ken doll/poster boy and he is acquitted. It is his unfortunate mate, Oskar with his rough looks and tatts who ends up serving time.

Christina’s lawyer works the room and manages to portray her as a God-fearing country girl. This is partly achieved by getting her to remove her facial piercings, grow her butch hair style out and hide her dragon tattoo. Never mind the media uses an image of refined hands clasped in prayer adorned with a pearl bracelet. These hands belong to Nicole – August’s gangster’s moll who is far from angelic but the praying hands with the manicured nails wins the Norwegian public over and Christina is acquitted.

Stina too, romancing the media and shoving her dial into the cameras at any opportunity, is acquitted. She is still wanted for trafficking in Bolivia but what does she care? It’s not like she’s ever going back and besides, she has now reached celebrity status in her homeland and is thinking about getting pregnant again because it “makes her look sexy”.

It is only Madelaine, who in the end tells the truth and fesses up to knowing about the cocaine, who languishes in a Bolivian prison cell with her baby daughter, whilst on the other side of the world, family raise her eldest child. The unfairness of this and the idea that money and looks can buy freedom is a sad indictment on the Norwegian justice system and highlights quite starkly the flaws in the Bolivian courts. Whoever said that all’s fair in love and war never tried to smuggle drugs out of South America with no money and influence behind them.

Compelling. I’d like to see more from this director.

 

3 and a Half Pops