After the Spanish Civil War ended in 1939, General Francisco Franco ruled Spain for nearly 40 years in a dictatorship that saw tens of thousands of innocent people imprisoned, kidnapped, tortured, and murdered. Babies were taken from their mothers, civilians shot in the street and buried in mass unmarked graves, Franco’s political opponents tortured for months on end. When Franco finally kicked the bucket in 1975, the government (full of cronies who willingly upheld the dictator’s rule) made a pact of “forgetting”—both dissenters and regime supporters would have their slates wiped clean. This 1977 amnesty law prevented those who suffered under Franco’s rule from getting the justice they deserved.
The Silence of Others, directed by Robert Bahar and Almudena Carracedo, largely follows the outcome of a 2010 lawsuit filed by a group of Spaniards seeking justice for the crimes committed under Franco. Among them are José María Galante, asking for his torturer (and neighbor!) to be put on trial for his wrongdoings, and Ascensión Mendieta Ibarra, who would simply like to find and claim the bones (the bones!) of her father who was murdered in 1939 and tossed into a mass grave. Though some of the legal stuff is left a bit murky, this documentary is a moving reminder of the harm that comes from denying the truth of crimes done by those in power.