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Strangers to Peace

Three former child soldiers face retribution, anxiety, and danger as they attempt to rebuild their lives after leaving the FARC guerrilla army and the bloody Colombian conflict.

Strangers to Peace intimately captures the personal stories of Dayana, the market vendor navigating her new identity as a trans woman; Ricardo, the young father secretly clinging to his communist ideology; and Alexandra, the indigenous child soldier, who was forced to leave her family behind in the Amazon. Their stories are told through the lens of filmmaker Laura Angel, who herself was a victim of FARC violence.

  • Laura Bibibana Angel Rengifo
  • Noah David DeBonis
  • Laura Bibiana Angel Rengifo
  • Noah David DeBonis
  • Colleen Alena O'Brien
  • Mathew Cohn
    Councilwoman, Bangala Surf Girls
  • Ricardo Acosta
    Advising Editors
    El Silencio de Otros, I am Samuel, Marmato
  • Andrea Chignoli
    Advising Editors
    Violeta, Araña, No
  • Nascuy Linares
    Embrace of the Serpent, Once Upon a Time in Venezuela, Luxor
  • Project Title (Original Language):
    Ajenos a la Paz
  • Project Type:
    Documentary, Feature
  • Genres:
    Personal Narrative, Political, LGBTQI, Indigenous, Latin American, Colombian Cinema, Peace and Conflict
  • Runtime:
    1 hour 26 minutes 40 seconds
  • Completion Date:
    November 1, 2021
  • Production Budget:
    50,000 USD
  • Country of Origin:
  • Country of Filming:
  • Language:
  • Shooting Format:
  • Aspect Ratio:
  • Film Color:
  • First-time Filmmaker:
  • Student Project:
  • Miami Film Festival
    United States
    March 6, 2022
    World Premiere
    Official Selection in competition for the Documentary Achievement Award
  • New York Latino Film Festival
    New York
    United States
    September 15, 2022
    New York Premiere
    Excellence In Documentary Directing Award
  • University Film and Video Award

    July 20, 2022
    Best Documentary
  • Trinidad and Tobago Film Festival
    Port of Spain
    Trinidad and Tobago
    September 23, 2022
    Caribbean Premiere
  • Heartland Film Festival
    United States
    October 14, 2022
    Official Selection
  • Portland Film Festival
    United States
    October 13, 2022
    Oregon Premiere
    Official Selection
  • Seattle Latino Film Festival

    Official Selection
  • San Francisco Latino Film Festival

    Official Selection
Distribution Information
  • Freestyle Digital Media
    Sales Agent
    Country: United States
    Rights: All Rights
Director Biography - Laura Bibibana Angel Rengifo, Noah David DeBonis

Laura Angel Rengifo is an award-winning Colombian filmmaker and screenwriter. She has produced several short films including the internationally recognized Gallo (2014) and El instructivo del buitre (2014), winner of The 48-Hour Film Project Bogotá. Her latest film, Pichirilo (2016), was an official selection at the 2016 Bogotá Short Film Festival. She is a graduate of the Politécnico Grancolombiano, where she majored in media studies.

Noah DeBonis is an Emmy winning narrative and documentary filmmaker. He has produced, directed, and edited narrative and nonfiction programming for Netflix, Amazon, Spotify, CBS, CNBC, WWE, PIVOT TV, The Smithsonian, and more. Noah’s MFA thesis film, Posthumous, won a College Emmy Award, was licensed by Virgin Entertainment, and has won awards at numerous film festivals.

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Director Statement

When I was young, my grandfather would tell me horror stories about the FARC guerrillas. He referred to them as “demonios” (demons) who could camouflage themselves in the jungle, dodge bullets, and massacre entire towns without being seen. In part, these stories were fueled by my own family’s displacement; it was my grandfather’s generation that lost our farm and relocated to Bogotá, like millions of other Colombians who have been victims of the armed conflict. Growing up in Colombia, the headlines were always about the FARC. The message was clear: the FARC were responsible for the violence around us. During this time, my family would occasionally allow refugees from the war to camp in our backyard, a constant reminder that the conflict that my grandfather had lived, I was living too.

At 23, while working in a rural region, I was held by the FARC for three days. Guerrilla soldiers stopped my bus, and when they entered holding rifles, I feared the worst. Those three days were the first time I put faces to the nameless guerrillas, and what I saw, rather than demons, were people who had come from extreme poverty and found refuge in the FARC. While I condemned their tactics, the line between victim and victimizer became blurred. Luckily, I was released and returned to Bogotá safely. However, this incident never left my mind, and it is the impetus behind my desire to better understand the real lives and motivations of those in the FARC.

In 2016, I met co-director Noah DeBonis, who was living in Colombia at the time. Noah and I instantly connected: he’d grown up among displaced people in a Vietnamese refugee camp where his parents worked as educators. Like me, he wanted to tell stories about displaced people trying to rebuild their lives. Together we began filming footage for what would later become Strangers to Peace. The peace process had just been signed and thousands of FARC guerrillas would soon lay down their arms to return to society. What, we wondered, had driven them to leave their homes and join a violent rebel movement? And how would they now be able to live alongside ordinary Colombians?

Co-Director DeBonis and I are now married and work together as a filmmaking team. We are committed to making documentaries through an observational approach and telling stories that are authentic and focus on groups living outside of mainstream society. Being kidnapped by the FARC showed me a nuanced reality of my country that the media did not cover. Through Strangers to Peace, our first feature documentary, we showcase the challenges that these former rebel soldiers face as they attempt to rebuild their lives. As a Colombian woman, I believe it is important to tell these stories that represent a side of Colombia not often shown in the media.