The 33, the first film ever to be shot in Colombia under the new film law for productions made in the country, was filmed in early 2014 in mines in Nemocón and Zipaquira. Scenes of the mine collapse, the miners’ underground ordeal, and their joyous rescue in the famous Phoenix Capsule were filmed at these locations near Bogota.
The 33 is the first project to receive the cash rebate provided by the Colombia Film Fund (FFC), created by Law 1556 in 2012, and by Proimágenes Colombia. Producers received a cash rebate for 40% of their film services expenses and 20% of their logistical expenses one month after filming ended.
The film, directed by Mexican Patricia Riggen (Under the Same Moon and Lemonade Mouth), focuses on 10 of the 33 miners involved in an accident that captivated international media more than any other in recent years. The film’s script, which was two years in the making, tells the miners’ stories, their most moving experiences, their interpersonal conflicts, and the accident’s happy ending from the viewpoint of a handful of characters.
The San Jose mine, 30 kilometers from the Chilean city of Copiapo, collapsed in 2010, leaving 33 miners trapped more than 720 meters (2,300 feet) underground. The miners were trapped from August 5 to October 13 of 2010, nearly 70 days. Their one-by-one rescue operation, which lasted 25 hours, was called Operation San Lorenzo in honor of the patron saint of miners.
The rescue of the Chilean miners was the most successful operation of its kind in world history, watched on television by over 1.3 billion people. Not even the moon landing was seen by as many people.
The film features Antonio Banderas, who plays union leader Mario Sepúlveda; Lou Diamond Phillips; Juliette Binoche; Rodrigo Santoro; Mario Casas; and the Colombians Juan Pablo Raba and Gustavo Angarita. All of the actors underwent a strict diet to lose the weight needed to play their characters.
The 33, a co-production of the United States and Chile, was filmed in the Copiapo desert; Santiago, Chile; and Colombia.