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Review: The ghost of Gen. Franco haunts the documentary ‘The Silence of Others’

Review: The ghost of Gen. Franco haunts the documentary ‘The Silence of Others’
María Martín in the documentary "The Silence of Others." (The Silence of Others)

It may be more than 40 years since the death of Gen. Francisco Franco, but the chilling effects of his brutal regime continue to reverberate as affectingly illustrated in “The Silence of Others.”

Filmed over the course of six years, the documentary, co-directed by Almudena Carracedo and Robert Bahar, chronicles a grassroots effort to overturn Spain’s 1977 Amnesty Law, a “pact of forgetting” that exonerated those who committed crimes against humanity during Franco’s four-decade dictatorship.

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While some of the victims movingly profiled witnessed tortured family members being thrown into mass graves, others saw their newborn children taken by doctors who informed them they were dead, when they were actually put up for adoption.

Because Spanish courts refuse to hear their cases, a groundbreaking international suit is filed 7,000 miles away in an Argentinian courtroom, where it is allowed to proceed under the principle of universal jurisdiction.

As the legal proceedings progress, Carracedo and Bahar wisely keep their probing camera trained on the passionate faces of their subjects, allowing their stirring testimonies to take the spotlight.

Among them is the determined visage of María Martín, whose “I was 6 years old when they came for my mother,” is delivered in a haunting rasp.

Her voice may be reduced to a ravaged whisper, but Martín, like “The Silence of Others,” speaks relevant volumes on the subject of accountability.

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‘The Silence of Others’

In Spanish with English subtitles

Not rated

Running time: 1 hour, 36 minutes

Playing: Starts Friday, Laemmle Music Hall, Beverly Hills

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