Sheffield Doc/Fest Preview: The Silence of Others

The Spanish Civil War was bitterly contested by the Republicans and Nationalists between 1936 and 1939. It was a bitter and bloody conflict, with atrocities committed on both sides. The Nationalists, led by Francisco Franco, were eventually triumphed. He ran Spain with an iron fist until his death in 1975. Francoist Spain became a right-wing one-party authoritarian state where repression and government sponsored murders were commonplace.

It’s is estimated that over 400,000 people were killed during his reign. After his death, Spain made a smooth transition from dictatorship to democracy. The key to this was the ‘Pact of Forgetting’, which came into law in 1977. It guaranteed impunity for those who crimes committed after the beginning of the war. The idea was to ensure national unity going forward. However, as Robert Bahar and Almudena Carracedo’s new documentary The Silence of Others demonstrates, the truth should not be buried.

The Silence of Others follows survivors and their families in their pursuit for justice. Filmed over six year, Carracedo and Bahar capture the pain and hurt as victims attempt to prosecute cries perpetrated by Franco’s dictatorship. It’s a bruising and emotional film to watch. There are wounds which fester but will never fully heal. The Silence of Others strikes the perfect balance between imparting the facts and telling the individual human stories. It’s a powerful, meticulously constructed and empathetic documentary which highlights a travesty most people outside of Spain won’t be aware of.

The Silence of Others screens at Sheffield Doc/Fest on 9 & 11 June.

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