A new documentary from a filmmaker with ties to Illinois Wesleyan University reveals what happens when a country doesn’t confront its own past atrocities.
Almudena Carracedo’s latest film, “The Silence of Others,” captures the first attempt to prosecute the crimes of Spain’s 40-year dictatorship under General Franco, which ended in 1975. Until now, the perpetrators have enjoyed impunity for decades due to a 1977 amnesty law—a law that has never allowed a national reckoning about what happened.
Thousands of children were stolen from their parents during the Franco regime, Carracedo said, and there were 114,000 people buried in mass graves. There was a lack of closure.
There was also a lack of justice, unlike when, for example, the Nazi leadership was put on trial in Nuremberg, Germany, in the wake of World War II.
“It’s a question that many societies grapple with—the issue of legacies,” Carracedo said on WGLT’s Sound Ideas. “In this country (the U.S.) we have Confederate monuments. How do we remember the past but not honor it? It’s a conversation that goes beyond Spain, and that’s why the film becomes more universal. It puts a mirror to the audience.”
Carracedo’s film, shot over six years, follows survivors and human rights lawyers in Spain as they build a case that Spanish courts refuse to admit. It also travels to Argentina, where a judge has taken it on using the principle of universal jurisdiction, which allows foreign courts to investigate crimes against humanity if the country where they occurred refuses to do so.
Carracedo’s parents were raised under the Franco regime, and she grew up in Spain during its transition from dictatorship to democracy. There’s no easy or textbook way to exit dictatorship, Carracedo said, but the one thing you can’t do is forget what happened.
“It doesn’t really help us turn the page. Because we don’t even read the page,” she said. “If you don’t have justice, the truth is you don’t have peace for a lot of people.”
Carracedo visited Illinois Wesleyan on Nov. 12-13 to show and discuss her films, including “The Silence of Others.” Carracedo received an honorary doctorate from IWU in 2011.
“The Silence of Others” premiered in May at New York’s Film Forum and was seen on PBS’ “POV” series in September. Watch a trailer for “The Silence of Others” below:
Hear Carracedo’s full interview with WGLT below:
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