A Lot or a Little?
What you will—and won't—find in this movie.
Through access, research, and the right questions, journalists can dig into historical events, unearth new pieces of information, and give people a platform to share their perspectives on the past. Spanish society suffered years of terror during ETA's deadly campaign, but it also rebounded, and ETA became the only armed group in Europe to officially lay down arms and disband.
Positive Role Models
A journalist conducts a difficult, emotional, and probing interview with a man who isn't entirely forthcoming. A victim of ETA says he would feel a sense of closure if he were to receive an apology from members of the armed group who shot and nearly killed him in the 1970s.
The film is in Spanish and deals with a now-disbanded terrorist group known as ETA, which wanted independence for the Basque region. International viewers will be exposed to some key aspects of Spanish history from the last 60 years.
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Violence & Scariness
ETA killed 852 people and wounded 2,661 others over its 59 years of activity. There is both discussion and archive television footage and newspaper images of some of the attacks perpetrated by ETA, including bombings that killed children, a car bomb that killed a president, and kidnappings and murders. An ETA victim and former police officer describes his trauma when he was repeatedly shot at point blank while protecting a city mayor, who was killed. After barely surviving the attack, he was stigmatized by neighbors and had to move to another area of Spain. ETA's activities tore communities apart by pitting families against each other, imposing a "revolutionary tax" on local businesses, and creating an atmosphere of fear and suspicion. The "terrorist" interviewed in the film talks about a "spiral of violence" that became customary and made people "numb," not allowing for empathy or compassion for the "other side."
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"S-t" in the English subtitles.
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Products & Purchases
One of the interviewees has a book out about his experience as a victim of ETA.
Parents Need to Know
Parents need to know that the documentary Face to Face with ETA: Conversations with a Terrorist touches on Spain's difficult and relatively recent past with domestic terrorism. A former leader of the armed Basque separatist group known as ETA is questioned about his role and his feelings on the actions of the group, responsible for nearly 900 murders and more than 2,500 wounded over its 59-year campaign. Descriptions and footage reflect significant violence from bombings, shootings, kidnappings, and murders. An ETA victim and former police officer describes his trauma when he was repeatedly shot at point blank while protecting a city mayor, who was killed. After barely surviving the attack, he was stigmatized by neighbors and had to move to another area of Spain. He says he would accept an apology after all these years. The film suggests that ETA was ultimately unsuccessful and its existence essentially "pointless." There is one appearance of the word "s--t" in the English subtitles. To stay in the loop on more movies like this, you can sign up for weekly Family Movie Night emails.
Is It Any Good?
You'll need to come in with some historical context to fully grasp or appreciate the staid, one-on-one interviews of this Spanish documentary. If you do, you'll find plenty of interesting material in Face to Face with ETA: Conversations with a Terrorist. The film has faced backlash in Spain for the whitewashing potential of giving a former ETA leader such a platform. The "terrorist" in question doesn't think of himself as a terrorist; he bristles, for example, at any comparison between ETA and religious-based jihadist movements, and he makes hazy parallels between ETA's victims and the "oppression" and misconduct by Spanish authorities. In fact, talk about the historical "repression and suffering of the Basque people" is an example of one area needing more explanation for international viewers.
Other aspects won't go far enough for local viewers. Journalist Evole's questions are probing, and he attempts to point out inconsistencies, but he also lets Urrutikoetxea get away with significant ambiguities and abstractions. You can walk away unclear exactly what role he played in various actions. The film's stance is clear in its opening and closing explanations and its structure, with the main event bookended by interviews with a victim of ETA who finds out, for the first time and on camera, that Urrutikoetxea played a role in the attack on him. End credits conclude that ETA disbanded after nearly 60 years without having obtained a single one of its original goals and a quote suggesting ETA "never should have happened." Face to Face tackles the conflict from an intellectual position, but to get a sense of the gut-wrenching human impact of ETA's years of activity, see the emotionally charged miniseries Patria.
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