The 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.