In 1961, Paul Schäfer founded a sect and agricultural commune of German immigrants located in the south of Chile called Colonia Dignidad. Though Colonia Dignidad presented itself as a charitable mission, it has been largely described as a cult by many defectors and former disciples of Schäfer. During the dictatorship of Augusto Pinochet, the Chilean secret police would often take people to Colonia Dignidad, hold them prisoner there, and subject them to torture. In 1997, Schäfer fled Chile after authorities investigated him on claims of molestation; he was eventually arrested in Argentina and extradited to Chile. He died in prison in 2010.
The new German film “Colonia” seeks to tell the story of Colonia Dignidad during the 1973 Chilean military coup. Directed by Florian Gallenberger, the film follows Lena (Emma Watson) as she infiltrates Colonia Dignidad to save her husband (Daniel Brühl), who was kidnapped and taken to the camp by the secret police to live under the rule of Schäfer (Michael Nyqvist). In this exclusive behind-the-scenes featurette, Gallenberger and the rest of the actors reflect on the tragic real-life story and what drew them to tell that story in the first place.
“Colonia” opens in limited release and on VOD this Friday.