Hot Docs Film Fest 2018: ‘The Silence of Others’ Burrows Deep into a Forgotten Hell

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The Silence of Others
Directed by Almudena Carracedo and Robert Bahar
Written by Ricardo Acosta, Robert Bahar, Almudena Carracedo, and Kim Roberts
2018/USA/Spain

Two of my favourite documentaries are Joshua Oppenheimer’s The Act of Killing and The Look of Silence. Both take a look at a genocide from a different perspective: the perpetrator and the victim. I learned, cried, and now recommend those films immediately when anyone asks for a documentary to watch. Almudena Carracedo and Robert Bahar’s The Silence of Others is now another one to add to the pile for those same exact reasons. While not structured in as interesting of a way, the film highlights a 40-year dictatorship in Spain that ended with no justice served. From there, the movie only further uncovers a hellish scenario that victims and relatives of victims have been suffering since General Franco’s reign.

During Franco’s forty years of dictatorship, Spain saw many being tortured and killed for any sign of dissent. Of course, there are several more unspeakable atrocities, and The Silence of Others doesn’t shy away from them. Starting with just two plaintiffs, a case is mounted to bring justice down on key members under Franco’s rule, almost forty years after his death. Why so long? That’s one of the most infuriating aspects of the real-life situation that haunts the victims and relatives. The Amnesty Law put in place by the government that doesn’t even allow for discussion of the atrocities that happened during Franco’s reign serves as the underlying darkness to an overbearing current of grief.

The Silence of Others

The Amnesty Law winds up demonstrating the importance of delivering justice, and the ways in which suffering isn’t forgotten but instead memorialized. There aren’t many happy moments in The Silence of Others, but the directors thankfully leave things in a hopeful place. Nothing will land as shocking if you know about the atrocities committed under Franco’s reign, but the way The Silence of Others is structured gives the details more impact. It’s one of the most powerful documentaries I’ve seen, that will make you weep more often than smile. If anything, that gives it more strength as it compels viewers to speak out and break the silence on how Spain’s government has mistreated its people.

The Hot Docs Film Festival takes place from Thursday, April 26 to May 6. Visit the official website for more info.

Chris is a graduate of Communications from Simon Fraser University and resides in Toronto, Ontario. His favorite films include The Big Lebowski, The Raid 2, Alien, and The Thing. You will often find him with a drink in his hand yelling about movies.

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