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Synopsis

The ultimate weakness of violence is that it is a descending spiral, begetting the very thing it seeks to destroy. Instead of diminishing evil, it multiplies it. Through violence you may murder the liar, but you cannot murder the lie, nor establish the truth. Through violence you murder the hater, but you do not murder hate. In fact, violence merely increases hate…. Returning violence for violence multiplies violence, adding deeper darkness to a night already devoid of stars. Darkness cannot drive out darkness; only light can do that. Hate cannot drive out hate; only love can do that.

– Dr. Martin Luther King

“Which one of your sons do you want me to kill first? If you don’t pay by tomorrow I’ll send you one of their bodies…”

A mother listens on the phone to the voice of a kidnapper, hurling obscenities at her. Her heart and spirit crushed by this anonymous cruelty, she begs for mercy. What is the monetary value of a human life?

Mexico has become one of the most violent civilized countries in the world. Bloodshed, extortion and kidnapping have become the norm for its citizens. The question is, will Mexico continue to remain silent?

Encender el Corazon (Ignite the Heart) is a motion picture docu-drama which began shooting in 2008, when filmmaker Mark Vicente (What the Bleep, Sarafina) began documenting the efforts of the non-violent citizens movement; Inlakech. While searching for Mexicans of character they came upon a historic story that occurred in the north of Mexico.

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In 2009, sixteen-year old Eric LeBaron was kidnapped in a small town in the northern state of Chihuahua, Mexico. The kidnappers asked for a ransom of one million dollars. Fed up with the situation, Benjamin LeBaron, one of Eric’s older brothers and father of five children, decided to take a firm stand against kidnapping. In an unprecedented move, the LeBaron family refused to pay. Organized by Benjamin, the whole community of Galeana publicly protested for Eric’s liberation. They refused to support the kidnapping business by further financing it.

Overcoming the oppressive barrier of fear, which keeps most of Mexico paralyzed, these people stood their ground.

“They are not kidnapping one person… they are kidnapping all of us”

the townsfolk said.

Seven days later Eric was found. Alive and unharmed.

His kidnappers had yielded to the pressure of a unified community. The people of Galeana didn’t use weapons, and they didn’t pay the ransom. They used a strategy of non-violence, and they scored a significant victory against the criminal element, accustomed to getting its way through intimidation and fear.

After his younger brother was released, Benjamin continued to organize a movement that would soon bring together thousands of people in the region and receive national attention. This provoked the ire of local criminals; Benjamin began to receive death threats.

With his bright blue eyes looking straight into the camera, Benjamin says;

I’m not trying to be a hero, I’m very scared, but someone needs to do this.

This was the last exclusive and intimate interview with Benjamin LeBaron before his assassination. Predictably, the criminals became frightened of the influence he and the townsfolk were building – and struck back.

Encender el Corazon follows a series of remarkable people, each doing what they can to challenge a common enemy: Violence of one Mexican upon Mexican.

The film is the result of more than seven-hundred hours of footage captured over an 8 year period. The perspective from which the questions were asked, and the sensitive approach of the filmmakers, brings to the screen a unique mosaic of deep emotionality and human honesty.

This project has taken the filmmakers on a journey from the enclaves of the wealthy… to extreme poverty in the slums … to the police and kidnapping units struggling with violence… to kidnappers serving life terms in prison… to everyday citizens doing their part to heal the soul of their country. This film was made to give voice to those Mexicans who are laying their lives on the line for a dream: the dream of a national identity that is noble, courageous, and above all peaceful.

The Inlakech movement, which began this cinematic journey; is non religious, non-denominational, non-political and operates under the assumption that no government is capable of solving the issues of the country. ONLY the CITIZENS can. The film and the movement are a testament to those Mexicans who share this dream, and with unbreakable conviction, are striving to make it a reality.

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