From filmmaker Juan Mandelbaum:
I hope that when people see OUR DISAPPEARED/NUESTROS DESAPARECIDOS it makes them aware of how precious it is to live in a free, democratic society. I also hope it encourages them to consider the consequences of some of our government’s actions, which can be seen in the film through Henry Kissinger’s enthusiastic endorsement of then-president Videla in 1977, at a time when the human rights violations were well known outside Argentina. I have been struck by the similarities between the transition from President Ford to Carter and from Bush to Obama in that sense. Jimmy Carter created the position of Assistant Secretary of State for Human Rights and sent Patt Derian around the world to meet with dictators and repressors to demand an end to human rights violations. I think we have similar hopes now—that America will be associated with liberties and not with Abu Ghraib. I have also been excited by how people who see the film make connections with current events like [the U.S. detention center at] Guantanamo [Bay, Cuba], extraordinary renditions, waterboarding, etc. [I witness them asking] themselves whether we want to be associated with such practices.
But more than anything, I want audiences to get into the personal stories, to see the tremendous resilience of parents who suffered irrevocable loss and to share the need to always remember the disappeared and to search for justice for the perpetrators.
His three favorite films:
The Hour of the Furnaces, which for 1968 is still a stunning political film, and La Dignidad de los Nadies, both directed by Fernando Solanas. I like all of Werner Herzog’s documentaries; also, Marcel Ophuls’ Sorrow and the Pity, Orson Welles’ F for Fake and Robert J. Flaherty’s Nanook of the North. Is that three?
His advice for aspiring filmmakers:
Follow your heart. Be immensely curious. Listen to your subjects carefully and intently. Be open to critical advice during your edit. Make films that someone will want to watch!
His most inspirational food for making independent film:
Empanadas, of course!
In addition to his work as an acclaimed documentary filmmaker, Juan Mandelbaum has also worked as a teacher, curator and consultant. He is president and creative director of GEOVISION, a Massachusetts multicultural communications agency.
Mandelbaum’s work has been broadcast over a variety of venues, from American Playhouse to Sesame Street. He has been nominated for and won numerous Emmy Awards, CINE Golden Eagles, Gabriel Awards, the Chris Award and the Silver Apple Award. Mandelbaum was a producer/director at WGBH-Boston on Americas, a 10-part series on Latin America and the Caribbean for PBS and Channel 4-UK. He also co-produced In Women’s Hands and produced Builders of Images for Channel 4-UK.
Mandelbaum’s independent productions have been aired on PBS, screened in many festivals and are in worldwide distribution. His films have received grants and funding from the Sundance Institute, ITVS, Latino Public Broadcasting and the National Endowment for the Arts/Massachusetts Cultural Council. Among his independent films are Caetano in Bahia, Ringl and Pit, A New World of Music, and the Poetry Heaven series on the Geraldine R. Dodge Poetry Festival.
Mandelbaum has served as a reader and panelist for ITVS, Latino Public Broadcasting, Massachusetts Cultural Council, New Hampshire Council on the Arts and the New England Film and Video Festival.
Mandelbaum studied sociology in his native Argentina and worked as a journalist, photographer and educator until he left for the United States in 1977 to escape the military dictatorship that had taken over the country. He holds an MA in Communications from the Annenberg School for Communication at the University of Pennsylvania. In 1998, the university gave him the Merrill Panitt Citizenship Award, which is awarded every year to a distinguished alumnus. Mandelbaum is past president of International Film Seminars, organizers of the Flaherty Film Seminars.
David Carnochan has a long track record in editing award-winning long format documentaries for PBS. He has been a core member of Richard Gordon's and Carma Hinton's Long Bow Group since its inception. He has edited all of their films about China, including two Peabody Award winners, Small Happiness and The Gate of Heavenly Peace, which had its premiere at the New York Film Festival. David also edited two hours of the Peabody Award-winning series I'll Make Me a World for Blackside, Inc. In addition to working on numerous short and feature-length independent documentaries that have appeared on PBS, he has edited for FRONTLINE and NOVA.
Pianist and composer Gustavo Moretto is considered to be one of the most relevant Argentine musicians of the last 30 years. A native of Buenos Aires, he started his music career as a trumpet player, composer and pianist for Alma y Vida, one of that country's most famous bands. He later left the band to form Alas (together with Alex Zuker and Carlos Riganti), where he was the composer and keyboard player. Gustavo toured extensively through Argentina and Chile and recorded six LPs (for RCA and EMI). He also worked as a studio sessionist and guest performer with many prominent Argentine musicians.
In 1979, due to the generalized repressive climate, Moretto decided to leave Argentina and traveled to the United States to pursue formal training in composition. He holds a BA from the New England Conservatory and a PhD in Music Composition from Columbia University. He is currently a professor in charge of the instrumental program at LaGuardia Community College in New York City.
Filmmaker Juan Mandelbaum and Moretto have collaborated on several films, including Ringl and Pit, A New World of Music and Poetry Heaven.