El silencio de otros (The Silence of Others)

Poster for El silencio de otros (The Silence of Others)

“There is no embracing the future without confronting the past in The Silence Of Others, an elegant reckoning with the legacy of General Franco’s 40 year dictatorship. Emmy-winning filmmakers Almudena Carracedo and Robert Bahar (Made In L.A.) handle complex issues in a way that is clear-sighted and approachable.

The Silence Of Others finds the human connection that guides the viewer through recent Spanish history. The very first images are of the elderly, indomitable María Martín as she walks through her village to lay flowers at the side of a road. There is no trace of it to the naked eye but this is the site of a mass grave that includes the remains of her mother, who was taken from María when she was six years old.

The idea of the past being covered over and forgotten is central to a film that swiftly and economically sets out the facts before drawing us into individual stories and the bigger picture. Franco’s death in 1975 opened Spain to the possibility of change and reform. The giddy jubilation of democracy’s dawn led the Spanish Parliament to pass the Amnesty Act in 1977. The Act answered the left’s call for an amnesty for all political prisoners, but it also included an amnesty for the crimes of the dictatorship. The best way forward was simply by forgetting the past.

The Silence Of Others champions those who cannot forgive or forget, like human rights lawyer Carlos Slepoy and José María Galante who now lives on the same street as the man who once tortured him. Seeking to reclaim the right to justice, the men were central to a 2010 lawsuit filed in Argentina seeking trials for crimes against humanity. There is no statute of limitations on such crimes and no geographical restrictions on where they can be tried.

Filmed over six years, the film patiently follows the slow progress of the lawsuit as it gradually gathers plaintiffs and exposes deep divisions running through Spanish society. Unfolding with all the force of a classic political thriller by Costa-Gavras or Francesco Rosi, The Silence of Others emerges as a moving salute to the small victories of determined individuals.” (Allan Hunter, Screen Daily)

“A stirring documentary… a very necessary story, delivered with rigor and conviction.” (Stephen Dalton, The Hollywood Reporter)

“Exceptionally moving… this film is a milestone in recovery of a past that is not over—and, to invoke Faulkner, not even past.” (Patricia Aufderheide, IDA Documentary Magazine)