How We Started
In 2010, the story of Spain’s “stolen children” began to come out. The story of these crimes, with roots in the early days of Franco’s rule, led us to explore the marginalization and silencing of victims of many Franco-era crimes, ranging from extrajudicial killings at the end of the Spanish Civil War to torture that took place as recently as 1975. As we began to learn more, we were baffled by basic questions: how could it be that Spain, unlike other countries emerging from repressive regimes, had had no Nuremberg Trials, no Truth and Reconciliation Commission, no national reckoning? Why, instead, was a “pact of forgetting” forged in Spain? And what were the consequences of that pact, 40 years into democracy, for the still-living victims of Franco’s dictatorship? When we began filming the process of the Argentine lawsuit in 2012, which challenged this status quo, few thought that it would amount to much. But as we filmed those early meetings, we could see that the lawsuit was stirring up something vital, transforming victims and survivors into organizers and plaintiffs and bringing out dozens, and then hundreds, of testimonies from all over Spain. As the number of testimonies snowballed, the case was building into a persuasive argument about crimes against humanity that demanded international justice. We thus discovered that The Silence of Others was going to be a story about possibilities, about trying to breach a wall, and that, rather than focusing on what had happened in the past, it would be all about the present and the future. For many of the plaintiffs, the case would offer the last opportunity in their lifetimes to be heard. Yet even as we set out filming those early meetings, we could scarcely have imagined that we would follow this story for six years.
Perspective and Process
The stories that we were uncovering touched each of us deeply: Almudena is a Spaniard whose parents were raised under Franco, and who grew up in Spain during the transition from dictatorship to democracy. Robert is an American who has been involved with human rights issues since he was 19, and the fight against Fascism during the Spanish Civil War had always been close to his heart.
This was a film that had to work inside and outside Spain. It needed the cultural sensitivity, the shared subconscious, and intricate contextual details of a film made by a Spaniard, and Almudena, who was born just before Franco died, returned home to Spain, after 12 years in the US, to make this film. While most of the crew was Spanish, it was also crucial that there be an international team, and Robert’s outsider perspective greatly shaped the film, unpacking assumptions and making it bigger and more universal.
As Judge María Servini says near the end of the film, “If the judges in Spain could hear what I have heard, they would open these cases here, too”. Likewise, we hope that when people hear the stories that we have heard over the seven years of making The Silence of Others, and see the fear and the pain that we have seen, they too will view this less as a political issue, and more as a human rights – or just a human – issue.
—Almudena Carracedo and Robert Bahar, Directors and Producers, The Silence of Others