Filmmaker Profile: Antonio Perez Molero, END OF WAITING TIME

Posted on September 1, 2009

During the long dictatorship of Spanish General Francisco Franco, hundreds of people were arrested, executed or disappeared. In END OF WAITING TIME, filmmaker Antonio Perez Molero talks with the families of those who vanished and have begun to search for answers about their relatives. The film will air at 10:00 PM on September 20 on Global Voices on PBS WORLD (check local listings). Learn more about the film and the challenges he faced. 

What has the reaction to the film been like? In general, despite the delicate subject, the documentary has been well received. The Spanish Civil War and its aftermath is still going on 70 years after it ended. It’s a continuous cause of debate amongst the Spanish people. We can’t agree about the causes, the events or those who are responsible. Now, however, these differences, happily, are fought through talking and writing—or making films and documentaries. Perhaps the only thing that the vast majority of Spanish people have agreed on is the right of the families of war prisoners to recuperate the remains and memories of their loved ones.

That may seem obvious today, but it has required a transformation of several years for Spanish public opinion to acknowledge that the moral right of family members should prevail over the long held fear in Spain that any kind of investigation of our civil war, even with a humanitarian objective, might lead the country to open old, painful and dangerous wounds. This is the main theme of our documentary—the family members and their struggle to recover the remains and memories of the disappeared. And in fact, the majority of the people who have seen the documentary appreciated it, independently of their political inclinations. 

What were some of the challenges you faced in making this film? The first challenge was maintaining our objectivity while making the film. Over more than three years of filming, we established close relationships with the families. These relationships were fundamental to telling the story with the freshness that we wanted. But it was also necessary to make a great effort to maintain our objectivity during the filming, not because we received any direct pressure, but because of the emotional commitment that we felt towards them. As far as the filmmaking goes, the hardest part was choosing the story lines and characters that we would follow at each moment. There were a lot of people and events that we came to know during filming, which forced us into a continuous process of selection and sacrifice until we were left with the characters that we felt would be most representative of the story we wanted to tell. Even so, despite this selection process, the quantity of material we collected was enormous (more than 150 hours of footage) and the ingestion, selection and editing has been the most laborious and difficult part of making the documentary. 

Why do you think it’s important for a U.S. audience to see this film? This fill will inform American viewers on an important part of Spanish and European history—the arrival of Fascism, and perhaps more importantly, how a society, in this case Spanish, is processing its recent history. This process has been, from our point of view, neither the best nor the most coherent. Spain can be proud to count on one judget—Baltazar Garzon, who started, with his cause against Pinochet, a path towards the construction of a world with universal justice, one in which no criminal can feel safe. On the other hand, Spain can be ashamed to have impeded this same judge from making a serious investigation into the crimes committed in Spain during the civil war. 

If you weren’t a filmmaker, what kind of work do you think you’d be doing? I would love to be a photographer. To not have to depend on sound, to carry light equipment, and to pass by unnoticed while working… END OF WAITING TIME airs at 10:00 on September 20 on Global Voices on PBS WORLD (check local listings

**This blog post was translated from Spanish to English by ITVS Senior Production Manager Annelise Wunderlich.


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