All major religions allow followers to repent their sins. In The Goalkeeper, director Gory Patiño and his co-screenwriters confront a rarely asked question: is it possible to commit a sin so horrible that repentance is not possible.
Back in 1995, football (soccer) goalkeeper Jorge Rivera became a local legend when he stopped a penalty kick that gave his underdog club the national championship. But now, more than twenty years later, he is alcoholic and barely making a living driving a taxi/bus. He is divorced, and he has a young son who will die if he can’t have an operation that Jorge cannot afford. Desperate, Jorge accepts a job he has, until now, considered abhorrent: kidnapping drunk or drugged young people and delivering them to traffickers.
Jorge picks up a soused partier who recognizes him and calls him by his nickname, Muralla (The Wall). He earned this sobriquet by his goalkeeping skills, but it also describes the way that Jorge has cut himself off from the world around him and from his inner feelings. When his drunken passenger falls asleep, Jorge calls the traffickers and arranges a delivery. But when a cell phone call wakes up the victim, the man’s wife asks him to hurry home because their infant child is crying for him. Jorge drives the young man home.
The traffickers want to know why Jorge is late. Then, in the back of his passenger van, he discovers a teenaged girl passed out. He delivers her to the drop-off spot and collects his money. But by the time he gets to the hospital, his son has died. Now, Jorge tries to track down the girl he delivered and save her.
The Goalkeeper is actually a spinoff from a TV series, “La Entrega”, also about trafficking, that has not yet been released. The film and the series were produced simultaneously. A friend of Patiño’s mother worked at a shelter for girls and women who have been saved from sex traffickers, something that is sometimes possible during the first 48 hours after a kidnapping. Men are not allowed to enter this shelter. However, two of the actresses spent time at the shelter as part of the preparation for their roles. In exchange, they returned to the shelter to give dance and theater workshops.
One lesson taught by the film is that although most of the kidnapped women are trafficked for sex, other victims are farmed out for other roles, such as organ harvesting. Kidnap victims whose bodies are too damaged by alcohol or drugs are turned into “mules”, used to smuggle drugs across borders.
Gory Patiño spent twelve years in Southern California, graduated from Chapman University Film and Television School and taught at the New York Film Academy in Burbank. I had the pleasure of spending time with Patiño and then moderating the question and answer session after one screening. He made it clear that he chose the topic of human trafficking for both projects to call attention to the fact that an average of eight children a day are kidnapped off the streets of the Bolivian capital of La Paz.