For the first time in history, in a groundbreaking international lawsuit, survivors of crimes of Spain’s 40-year dictatorship seek justice and attempt to prosecute perpetrators. In a poetic and layered exploration, THE SILENCE OF OTHERS follows the journey of building this lawsuit and explores a country still deeply divided after 38 years of democracy.
With unprecedented access, THE SILENCE OF OTHERS offers a cinematic portrait of the first attempt in history to prosecute perpetrators of crimes of Franco’s 40-year dictatorship in Spain (1939-1975), who, unbeknownst to much of the world, have enjoyed impunity for decades due to a 1977 amnesty law. The story unfolds on two continents: in Spain, where survivors and human rights lawyers are building the case, and in Argentina, where a judge has taken it on using the principle of universal jurisdiction, which allows courts to investigate crimes against humanity abroad if the country where they occurred refuses to do so. The implications of the case are global, as Spain’s transition from dictatorship to democracy continues to be hailed as a model to this day. The case also marks an astonishing reversal, for it was Spain that pioneered universal jurisdiction to bring down former Chilean dictator Augusto Pinochet, and yet now it is an Argentine judge who must bring Spain’s own past to light. THE SILENCE OF OTHERS tells the story of this groundbreaking international lawsuit, which we have been filming for four years, through the voices of survivors who have broken Spain’s “pact of silence” and become plaintiffs in the case, including victims of torture, victims of cases of stolen children, survivors of abuse in reformatories, and families of victims of extrajudicial killings, estimated at over 100,000, buried in thousands of mass graves that remain uninvestigated across Spain. After years of work, the case is poised to make history. What started as a small, grassroots effort has now yielded the first-ever arrest warrants for perpetrators, including torturers, cabinet ministers, and doctors implicated in cases of stolen children. It has brought the nearly forgotten case to the front page of The New York Times and has stirred a flurry of international attention and debates on the floor of Spain’s Congress. THE SILENCE OF OTHERS will speak to universal questions of how societies transition from dictatorship to democracy, and it will offer a compelling portrait of universal jurisdiction in action. THE SILENCE OF OTHERS, however, will be a poetic investigation as much as a factual one. It will explore the emotional landscape wrought by political actions, and concepts of memory, justice, and silence will weave through the film. What happens when a country is forced to reckon with its past after so many years of silence? Can justice be done after so long? ••• THE SILENCE OF OTHERS is being directed by Emmy-wining filmmakers Almudena Carracedo and Robert Bahar. It is supported by the Independent Television Service (ITVS), Sundance Institute Documentary Film Program, National Endowment for the Humanities (NEH), Catapult Film Fund, Bertha Foundation, Bertha Britdoc Connect Fund, Democracy & Media Foundation, New York State Council on the Arts (NYSCA), and a Guggenheim Fellowship.