1981. Civil War rages in El Salvador between American-supported government forces and guerillas. Refugees flee to Los Angeles and form the gang, “Los Discípulos”. Many are deported back to El Salvador and eventually form one of America’s largest human trafficking rings. This is the backdrop for “Relentless”, inspired by true events.
Present Day. Holly Drew owns “Drew’s Brews” a coffee roaster on the Oregon coast. Since childhood she has traveled with her father to the farm of their Salvadorian coffee suppliers—they’re like family. Now the farm is in financial trouble. Holly’s daughter Ally (16) takes a pre-college course, spending the summer on the farm studying ways they can become more financially and environmentally efficient.
One night Ally is violently kidnapped from the farm. Holly immediately travels to San Salvador. Farm owners Ricardo and Milagro escort Holly to find “Fern”, a past-his-prime ex-military Salvadorian who reluctantly helps. They search the underbellies of El Salvador, Guatemala and Mexico. Ally is sold and shipped on “El Trein de Muerte” (The Train of Death), a cargo train that migrants and trafficking victims stow away on to the U.S.
Holly unearths a dark human trafficking ring, linking Central American victims to a U.S. market, while racing a train to get her daughter back before she vanishes forever.
A native of Wellington, New Zealand, Shaw spent much of her early life shuttling between New Zealand, Alaska, and then Seattle, where she began her acting career. A natural athlete - and a lifelong passion for horses and cars - led to her also working internationally as a stunt performer.
Shaw played a CIA analyst in Kathryn Bigelow’s critically-acclaimed Zero Dark Thirty, before taking on the role of Antoinette - estranged wife of actor John Malkovich - on the NBC television series Crossbones. She has also worked on and appeared in television series such as: CSI: Cyber, Scorpion, Revenge, Lucifer, Criminal Minds, Spartacus, and Parks and Recreation.
In addition to Relentless, Shaw has roles in two other feature films due for release later in 2016, True Memoirs of an International Assassin, and Late Bloomer.
Los Angeles-based David Castro has been acting since the early 1980’s and has appeared in over 100 film and television projects and 35 stage productions.
He is proud of his work on the National Tour of “The Odd Couple” – the female version, which ran from 2001-2004 and starred Barbara Eden. The show was nominated in 2002 as best comedy by The Broadway Touring Awards and eventually played 153 times in 49 cities throughout the US.
He is currently co-directing and starring in the comedy pilot, “DADS!” The project was written by Mr. Castro and Larry Thomas, who played The Soup Nazi on the long running sitcom SEINFELD.
He is proud to have participated in “Relentless” as El Salvador is his mother’s homeland and he was able to bring an important story to the screen.
Known for “Anna” in “Preditor”, starring in Oliver Stone’s “Salvador”, “Seven Pounds”, and for starring in the “The Brave” with Marlon Brando, directed by Johnny Depp, Elpidia had a burning desire to give a voice to this story of a very real human struggle.
The Salvadorian government attacks the guerrillas.
I wanted to make this film because I feel strongly about helping human trafficking victims; those right here in America and our supply of people from Central America. I deliberately chose to tell it through an American lens so Westerners will see a connection, care and be moved to action. I chose El Salvador because I’ve shot several docs there and I have close relationships. This is the first American feature, and the first feature of significant size ever shot in El Salvador and I thought it would help the locals. When I heard about El Train de Muerte – “The Train of Death” – and that 150 or more Central American immigrants stow away on this train daily to Mexico and the U.S. I wanted to tell that story. It is disturbing to me that bandits and gang members regularly rape, beat, sell and kill immigrants as they are trying to migrate North to feed their families. And a as a filmmaker, telling a story on a train adds a whole new level of entertainment.
“El Salvador’s crews work hard. They have a national and personal pride like no one I’ve seen in the world. They all want to jump in and do each other’s jobs just to help. That took some getting used to.”
- Lance Tracy
This film was very ambitious for the budget. It’s an international thriller with several countries and dozens of difficult locations, a cast and crew of 200+, and dozens of priceless big-scale production assets. Shoot days were rarely under 16 hours, 6 days a week. We shot at least two 23-hour days. The logistics OFF-set were challenging as well; most of the crew would show up at a rendezvous point and we’d take a crew bus to a remote location—often dangerous. The Salvadorian government was really helpful; every day we had elite soldiers guarding the cast and crew for free. They gave us access to their military helicopters, trains, airport, police & police vehicles, crew transportation, publicity, locations—and free reign to tell the story of El Salvador the way it was during the Civil War and the way it is now. They are eager to solve their human trafficking problem and they had the humility and courage to let us show the underbelly of their country’s struggle. And we couldn’t have done it without our co-production partners, Meridianno 89. They’re a commercial production company in San Salvador that handled the presidential campaign for the country’s last election. They had priceless ties to government leaders and agencies to lend us logistical services, road closures, permits, locations and people. We couldn’t have done it without them, their crews and their equipment.
Seattle-Native, LA-Based Lance Tracy is a veteran commercial and documentary writer/director. "Relentless" is his first narrative feature.
Often working with NBC/Universal and CBS Interactive, Tracy has helped to brand the Sochi and London Olympics as well as the CBS streaming service, "CBS All Access". He got his start working 5 years as an in-house dramatic films director, making short films such as "The Cross" & "The Prodigal Daughter". With distribution in 155 countries and 15 languages, he was sensitized to an international audience while earning 12 writing and directing awards. He has directed projects in Hong Kong, Tokyo, Cambodia, Guatemala, El Salvador, Mexico City, Belize, Honduras, Moscow, St. Petersburg and the U.S.
In 2004 he started HUMAN to produce a feature documentary deemed by Sundance as "an accomplished film". His company then produced humanitarian documentaries all over Mexico & Central America. HUMAN has successfully mixed his love of bettering the world with his passion for film. He lives in LA with his wife & 2 kids. See his work at lancetracy.net
“Relentless” is giving a portion of its profit to “The Abolish Slavery Coalition” – a “boots on the ground” organization that literally carries out very dangerous human trafficking rescue operations. This film educates the audience on the American-supported Salvadorian Civil War, the government death squads, and Salvadorian war refugees who formed a notorious international gang that is now responsible for trafficking the majority of Central Americans to the U.S.A., making up one of America’s largest trafficking rings. The film pulls no punches, showing the plight of a young American girl who is caught up in a daily Latin American struggle.