The Bolivian Case is a stranger-than-fiction true story of three Norwegian teenage girls who were arrested in Bolivia in 2008 with 22kg of cocaine in their luggage. Although three girls committed the same crime, the media and public shaped a misconstrued representation of each girl based on biased interpretations, triggering the biggest media storm in Norway.
Stina Brendemo and Christina Øygarden were portrayed as two naïve European girls, while Madelaine Rodriguez was stereotyped as the ‘Latin trafficker’. Three years down the track, Stina mysteriously escapes jail and becomes a celebrity; Christina is found innocent in a Norwegian court; and Madelaine remains in a Bolivian gaol.
“The Bolivian Case aims to challenge viewers on how gender, race and class affect how society assigns guilt,” says director Violeta Ayala. “The outcome of the case was based on perception not evidence; as a result of this failure, we believe the media and justice system should be on trial.”
Writer/director Violeta Ayala and her producer partner Dan Fallshaw (United Notions Film) drew global acclaim for their controversial documentary Stolen, which premiered at Sydney Film Festival in 2009. Despite concerted efforts by two North African governments to stop the film, Stolen went on to screen at 80 film festivals internationally, won 15 awards, and aired on PBS. According to the Human Rights Watch report, a year after the release of Stolen, the Polisario criminalised slavery in the Tindouf refugee camps in 2010, a prime example of how documentaries can create social change.
The Bolivian Case is screening at the 2015 Sydney Film Festival on 7 June.
Violeta will be part of a panel discussion called ‘Can Documentaries Change The World?’ at Sydney Town Hall on 12 June at 7pm.
For more information and tickets visit the Sydney Film Festival website.