Nae Pasaran review by Rachelle Atalla
Nae Pasaran: A review by Rachelle Atalla
In 2010 I joined a walking tour in Santiago, Chile and was brought to the facade of La Moneda Palace. I’d read a little about the history of the 1973 military coup, of President Allende and his democratic leftist government being brutally overthrown. It was an atrocity before my time and seemed so far removed from Scotland and what was familiar to me. But then I saw Nae Pasaran.
Nae Pasaran translates to ‘They Shall Not Pass’ so what is this documentary about and how did it come to be? The seed was sown years ago when its director and writer Felipe Bustos Sierra was a young boy – his family were exiled during the atrocities and his father liked to tell stories of camaraderie displayed to the citizens of Chile from people around the world. One story in particular that resonated was of Scottish factory workers in East Kilbride and their act of defiance in the face of dictatorship.
When the Chilean army, led by Augusto Pinochet bombed La Moneda on the 11th of September 1973 it was rockets deployed by Hawker Hunter fighter planes that were used to kill civilians. At this time, there was only one place in the world where these engines were repaired – The Roll-Royce factory in East Kilbride. When the workers realised that some of the engines coming into the factory floor belonged to the Chilean army they made a decision to ‘black them’ – a refusal and protest to repair engines used to kill civilians. What proceeded was four years of boycotting, where the engines were ignored in East Kilbride, left to rust in crates, which subsequently grounded a large proportion of the Chilean army’s air fleet.
But what became of the Rolls-Royce factory workers, and in particular of the four men who led the boycott: Bob Fulton, Robert Sommerville, John Keenan and Stuart Barrie? And did they have any idea what impact their stand of solidarity had for the people of Chile?
This documentary is assembled like a jigsaw, entwining interviews from the men in East Kilbride, surviving prisoners of war, and members of the Chilean army who offer an apposing view, all handled delicately to frame a full picture. It is an incredible piece of work, told honestly and with real courage. At times the footage is disturbing and difficult to comprehend but is absolutely necessary. It reminds us that we should take note of our history, and how brutal we can be, often to our own people. But also that there is goodness too and a real belief in the universal strength of humanity.
What was initially a short length documentary released in 2013 grew into a story deserving of its expansion. Through a Kick-starter fund and with the dedicated passion of Sierra, Nae Pasaran premiered as a full-length feature on the 4th of March 2018, closing The Glasgow Film Festival. Please see this documentary. Bring tissues.
Rachelle Atalla, March, 2018
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