Ask the Filmmakers: The Judge and the General’s Elizabeth Farnsworth and Patricio Lanfranco

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Elizabeth Farnsworth and Patricio LanfrancoThe Judge and the General filmmaker Patricio Lanfranco was 19 years old when General Augusto Pinochet overthrew the democratically elected Chilean president Salvadore Allende in 1973. His co-director, Elizabeth Farnsworth, had spent time filming in Chile in 1970, and some of the people she had met there were killed in the coup. Elizabeth and Patricio met in 2000 when Elizabeth went to Chile again to work as a journalist for The NewsHour with Jim Lehrer. They realized they were both very interested in human rights cases, and decided to make a film about Chile together.

After they met Juan Guzmán, a conservative judge who had been assigned to a criminal case against Pinochet, the two filmmakers knew that his was the story they had been waiting to tell. His extraordinary transformation — from youthful Pinochet supporter who believed the tales of mass murder and human rights violations to be mostly Communist propaganda, to a skeptical man with the courage to undertake a thorough and personally dangerous investigation — shows not only how people can be bystanders while acts of cruelty and repression are carried out by their government, but also how those same people can make the decision to face the truth about their own complicity and help to bring justice to the victims’ families.

Patricio Lanfranco says, “Guzmán shows that it is never too late to be a good human being, to recognize one’s own mistakes and one’s own blindness and take responsibility for it.” Read more from Elizabeth and Patricio’s interview.
Do you have a question for Elizabeth and Patricio? Your question might be chosen for inclusion in a special Online NewsHour Insider interview with the filmmakers being taped Wednesday, August 20 at 11:30 AM ET. Enter your question below or on the NewsHour website. If you submit your question before Wednesday morning, Elizabeth and Patricio may answer your question as part of this special podcast.

Added August 27, 2008: Elizabeth answered selected viewer questions. Read what she has to say about the Chilean military’s complicity, a Spanish version of the film and more.

Ruiyan Xu
Ruiyan Xu
Former POVer Ruiyan Xu worked on developing and producing materials for POV's website. Before coming to POV, she worked in the Interactive and Broadband department at Channel Thirteen/WNET. Ruiyan was born in Shanghai and graduated from Brown University with a B.A. in Modern Culture and Media.
  • Efrain A. Ramirez

    FOREIGNID: 16883
    FOREIGNPARENTID:
    You may use HTML tags for style and links…….. am not all that computer literate. What is POV ? How do I access ? How can I locate this film (other then buying) so I can see it. Not being shown on my local PBS channel (WUNC, Chapel Hill, NC)

  • manfred marcus

    FOREIGNID: 16884
    FOREIGNPARENTID:
    Regarding the documentary “The judge and the general”, although it depicts the crimes of Pinochet alright, it leaves off the hook the author of the economic theories, Milton Friedman and his Chicago boys, that wanted to implant such theories in Chile, knowing that they could be carried out only with repression (torture and killings); why would you not judge Friedman and company, as guilty (by association) as Pinochet? Please explain that! MM.

  • Sarah Thornton

    FOREIGNID: 16885
    FOREIGNPARENTID:
    To what extent do you believe that members of the military were aware of what was going on in national terms? Obviously the higher ranking officials had more information and knowledge of kidnappings, torture etc. Were the lower ranking officials who acted on order from their superiors actually aware of the circumstances? I am very interested in the dynamics of the military under Pinochet and how some of those officers are dealing today with their role in this controversial story.

  • Brad

    FOREIGNID: 16886
    FOREIGNPARENTID:
    I still cannot believe that people didn’t know or care that this was happening in their society. I believe that fear keeps many people from acting. But I also think that fear turns people’s empathy into hate for the victims. They “deserved it” or did something to bring it on themselves. It is their way of self protecting.
    Another theory I have though is that some people lack the empathy gene. They have not evolved with it and cruelty is what drives them in their interaction with other people.
    My question is: if there is no justice that is swift and decisive how do societies and individuals learn? One of the few deterrents of absolute crushing totalitarian rule is that they will not get away with their crimes.
    On reflecting on your film I think it is tragic so much time went by before Pinochet was even indicted. He was never punished for his evils.

  • Simon Kilmurry

    FOREIGNID: 16887
    FOREIGNPARENTID:
    The film will be shown on WUNC on Friday August 22. Unfortunately, WUNC broadcasts P.O.V. at odd hours and this program will air at 2:00am, so you’ll need to set your VCR or DVR. You can check your local listings at http://www.pov.org, and you can send an email to WUNC at http://www.unctv.org/aboutus/contactus.php

  • Jerry Hamilton

    FOREIGNID: 16888
    FOREIGNPARENTID:
    You may use HTML tags for style and links.
    I wish to make a correction in the PBS script for this evening: the Northern Chile city is Arica [ahDEEka], not “Idica”. Regards, y !Bravo!

  • John Kenneth Adams

    FOREIGNID: 16889
    FOREIGNPARENTID:
    Thanks for the making of this important document. I have a great personal connection as I was in Chile the summers of 1971 and 1972 playing concerts for USIS. Several of the musicians I met, especially in La Serena, were murdered or disappeared. As a young man I often spoke about what I had experienced, but more often than not, most were uninformed about the events in CHile, or just didn’t care. This film awakened many vivid memories that willl help me document my own story for preservation for the future. .Thank you for helping me to understand so much I was never privileged to know.

  • David Oltrogge

    FOREIGNID: 16890
    FOREIGNPARENTID:
    Will ‘The Judge and the General’ be translated into Spanish and circulated around South America? I’d be interested to learn from friends of mine in that part of the world, what they think of it, but I don’t know what to tell them about its availability there.

  • Dr Chris Ullman

    FOREIGNID: 16891
    FOREIGNPARENTID:
    I wanted to contact Elizabeth Farnsworth.
    I have a 30 minute film of people sharing the train wreck of their lives and how they boot strapped their way out.
    There is also a book.

  • Sonia Baku

    FOREIGNID: 16892
    FOREIGNPARENTID:
    I was a student in 1976, protesting the Pinochet government and the role of the CIA in Allende’s overthrow. We knew what was happening in CHile and we knew our own country played a role in Allende’s overthrow. It has taken all this time for the people of Chile to taste the truth. What of people in the U.S.? Don’t we deserve to know the role of our CIA in CHile, Guatemala, El Salvador, Iran etc? Why are these stories told many years later–after all the dead are still?
    In this time of fear and lies, we must not turn away.
    Thank you again

  • Felipe Razo

    FOREIGNID: 16893
    FOREIGNPARENTID:
    I never thought I would live to see the day when someone would be allowed to search and say about the crimes committed in that sad period of Chile’s life, as Judge Guzman has done, and for you to be able to allow us to learn, and celebrate that with your honesty, courage, and blessed energies.
    THANK YOU.
    Still, I am not sure what, and how much time will have to pass for us as humans overcome the ignorance and brutality that invariably tends to arise when given the opportunity. I have heard of the ideologic purges in Russia, and the massive massacres of intellectuals in South Korea in the 50′s. I also know thare was a lot of “mano negra/blanca” inhumanity commited during the 60′s, 70′s and 80′s, in other countries in Latin America (Argentina, Brazil, Uruguay, Paraguay, Nicaragua, El Salvador, Mexico, etc.) and the world (Irak)with the support (promotion?) of the mostly Republican US administrations (Nixon, Reagan, Bush). Would we ever get to learn some more about the larger, most horrifying picture?

  • Patience Kankeh

    FOREIGNID: 16894
    FOREIGNPARENTID:
    this morning at about 4am , I awoke to a program on pbs and immediately became affixed to “The Judge and the General”. you see, when you take the story and place it on the western coast of Africa, in a country called Liberia, you will have the story of my people and the atrocities they suffered at the hands of power greedy men like Samuel Doe and Charles Taylor. Like the Chileans, we were helpless and felt no one care and so, we conformed to these dictators. today, for the first time, I looked up the “Universal Declaration of Human Rights” and wandered….. is it possible 14years of death and starvation would have been avoided if we as a people had held our leaders responsible to uphold our basic human rights? thanks for the documentary

  • http://bobrams47@gmail.com Robert Ramsdell

    FOREIGNID: 16895
    FOREIGNPARENTID:
    Robert Ramsdell, A,bany, OR
    I watched the program on Chile recently with great interest. A grammar school friend of mine in Live Oak, CA was a hit man for the CIA. His squad went to Chile to kidnap General Rene Schneider and use him to put down Pinochet. They watched Schneider’s movements and when they thought the time was right, they attacked a car Schneider was in. However, Schneider fought back and he was killed. This was confirmed by Henry Kissinger on a program I saw a year or so ago. This friend had a large farm in Utah and whenever the red phone would assign him to a new project, he would have a nearby farmer watch his place while he was out on a mission. I had two friends confirm that this was what his “job” was now. I don’t know if he is still alive or not.