In February 2019, The Silence Of Others (El silencio de otros) won the Goya award for best documentary of the year. It’s directed by Robert Bahar and Almudena Carracedo and produced by Pedro Almodóvar with his production company Deseo. So, let me add that, also thinking about Damián Szifron’s wonderful Relatos salvajes (2014), it’s clear that I prefer Almodóvar as producer than as director (and I’ve just watched his 2019 movie, Pain And Glory).
But, going back to the documentary, let me say it straight away in two words: it’s beautiful and it’s a must-see. The reason? Given the historical moment we are experiencing, with the extreme right returning to power in almost all European countries, such a powerful testimony must be listened to and supported in every possible way.
The Silence Of Others tells the story of those who don’t want to remain silent and who, despite the fact that the Spanish laws prohibit it, want justice for their relatives who were tortured, killed or disappeared in the years of Franco’s dictatorship and beyond. The case opened by the Argentine judge María Servini takes center stage, with her trying to condemn the criminals who in the years of the dictatorship (between 1936 and 1975) tortured political prisoners, killed them, and even kidnapped newborn children to entrust them to the regime’s families. There are a lot of people who don’t accept that the mortal remains of their family members are still in mass graves without their names testifying their presence and the circumstances that led to their death. The documentary also shows many lawyers and activists who help these people in their struggle for justice.
The documentary angers, moves, amazes… it compares Spain to other countries (especially in Latin America, but not only there) that have lived decades of dictatorships and where criminals have not been able to avoid justice, even after having escaped it for a long time. It’s incredible to see how modern politicians (of the Partido Popular) still defend the fact that there are names of squares and streets dedicated to Franco and his slogans. It’s shocking to see that in Spain nowadays there are people who look proud to do the Roman salute during demonstrations!
The documentary gives voice to the losers of history and shows that they are not defeated, but fighting in the face of a thousand adversities with an unquenchable thirst for justice. And I’d love to tell you that by the end of the documentary everyone has found the justice they seek but unfortunately it wouldn’t be the truth. Indeed, the more time passes by, the more difficult it’s to obtain a proper burial for the remains of the over one hundred thousand people buried in mass graves scattered throughout Spain. More than one hundred thousand! Not to mention the tortured ones, those who worked as slaves to build the fascist monument of the valle de los caídos, the kidnapped children… One question raised by the documentary is the following: why in Latin American countries with terrible dictatorships at the end it was possible to bring to justice the criminals, but it’s impossible to do so in Spain? It would be interesting to understand the reasons behind such inexplicable fact. Meanwhile, everyone should watch The Silence Of Others in order not to forget what happened and to continue to demonstrate that the thirst for justice has not died out and will never die out. Ciao!