Though The 33, the upcoming film based on the incomprehensibly challenging 69 day entrapment of a group of 33 Chilean minors in a buckled copper mine in 2010, is set to begin principal photography in just a few weeks, a number of the real-life survivors of the incident, on which several of the main characters in the film are based, are in the heat of a legal contractual battle concerning the allocation of their respective “life rights.”
The primary motivation behind what unfortunately appears to be a David vs. Goliath type legal battle is the miners’ unrightfully slender compensation package and denial of royalty rights resulting from a legal agreement with Chilean law firm Carey (which represents Phoenix Pictures, the production company of the film). The Chilean miners feel they were misled into signing a contract a large number of them claim was only available in English. To worsen matters, the Chilean government has reportedly been of no help to the miners, giving no signs of intending to provide legal assistance or guidance of any sort, in addition to not following through on their assurances of monetary compensation and psychological treatment directly succeeding the incident.
As the Guardian reports, though the group of miners is not fighting the legal battle as a cohesive whole (a number of the men are content with the current contractual arrangement), those seeking legal reconsideration are decidedly outspoken and determined in their cause. They aren’t opposed to the production of the film in general, but Luis Urzua, the unofficial president and spokesperson of the latter group, “The 33 of Atacama”, expressed his frustration with the injustice he and his fellow miners are experiencing, as well as the resolve of the group in righting the situation:
We have to fix our affairs with the Lawyers and with the [movie] producer that is in the United States. With the march of time, we have had various complications with respect to our life story. I don’t think we are going to make a movie and then later realize we feel bad [because] our rights were infringed.
Though the miners are determined to fight the good fight, The 33’s production schedule reportedly remains in tact, with filming to begin in Colombia at the end of the month. Directed by Patricia Riggen (Girl in Progress, Under the Same Moon), the film will be shot in English and will star Antonio Banderas (Desperado, The Skin I Live In) and Martin Sheen (The West Wing).
In response to Chilean government’s hosting an official anniversary of the incident last month, Mario Sepulveda, another unofficial leader and one of only 13 of the 33 miners who attended the ceremony, said on Radio BioBio, “I don’t have anything to celebrate yet. If we had some good news, but the truth is we have not. The justice [system] in this country is worthless. Second, things have not gone well with the movie or the book, the only thing they have done is help third parties profit.”