This documentary by Felipe Bustos Sierra, whose father was an exiled Chilean journalist, is about the act of solidarity in 1974 by Rolls Royce engineers in Scotland’s East Kilbride who, upon seeing that the Chilean dictator Pinochet was using Hawker Hunter jets to attack his own people, refused to service the planes’ engines. This action lasted for 4 years. Sierra interviews some of the engineers who recall their stories and roles in the protest,with much integrity, wit and humour.
We welcome Cynthia Davila to introduce the film and talk about her experiences in Chile at this time.
Dir: Felipe Bustos Sierra , UK, 96 mins, 2018
We welcome Cynthia Davila to introduce tonight’s film and talk about her experience of life in Chile during the latter part of the Pinochet military rule
When Edinburgh-based director Felipe Bustos Sierra was a child, son of a Chilean journalist living in exile in Belgium, he heard stories of a group of Scottish Rolls-Royce workers who, in 1974, refused to work on engines used in the Pinochet regime’s Hawker Hunter jets. This ‘blacking’ was an act of solidarity with the people of a country brought low by a military coup that used the ‘planes to bomb the seat of government and kill the democratically elected president Salvador Allende. In 2013, Sierra, now a documentarian, went on the trail of the engines and the trade unionists involved to make a short film – which has now been expanded into this emotionally resonant feature.
Sierra uses archive footage to set the historical scene before engine inspector Bob Fulton and his colleagues, including Stuart Barrie, Robert Somerville and John Keenan, reminisce in a pub about their decision to launch the boycott. The men are a likeable crew, with a strong and enduring belief in solidarity, that may well have you mourning the loss of trade unions from many workplaces. In South America, he sets about interviewing Chileans about the coup – many of whom were imprisoned and tortured by Pinochet. Showing this footage to the men back in Scotland, Sierra captures their reactions and, in doing so, creates a heartfelt dialogue between decades and continents.
In a short coda to the film, he details the likely eventual fate of the engines themselves – left outside at the East Kilbride works to corrode in all weathers – but spirited away one night in 1978, four years after they were ‘blacked’.
The story remains one of emotional connection, felt then and now, between the Scots and the Chileans. As honours come their way, the men’s self-effacing reaction to sudden prominence makes it all the more touching. In a world increasingly divided by political extremism, it’s good to be reminded of the quiet power of solidarity and standing together, no matter what the physical distance between people may be.
Acknowledgments: Amber Wilkinson, EyeforFilm
“Nae Pasaran! is constructed to highlight a timeless message through this historical act in the manner of some of the best documentaries” Jim Ross, takeonecinema.net
- Thank you so much for showing this film. I’m shocked by how much I had forgotten
- An important film documenting this story. Thank you for showing it and sharing its message with us. Film well made, giving time for the main participants to tell their stories
- This was ABCD at its best – a deeply heartfelt introduction by Cynthia Davila, an intelligent, powerfully searching film, followed by an emotionally charged discussion, bringing the real situation in Chile up to date
- What an extra-ordinary evening! Cynthia’s introduction brought these horrifying historical events to life, whilst the film gave us insights into the remarkable ‘refusenik’ action in Scotland and even, finally, into the whereabouts of the infamous engines
- A film by turns harrowing and hopeful. I’m sorry to hear that the new regime did not live up to those hopes
- A wonderful reminder of the good things trade unionism could achieve. All forgotten now ….
- Excellent film, making intelligent, searching and thoughtful arguments. I could have done with sub-titles for the Scottish accents sometimes!
- Great men – we need more of them!
- Excellent film – all this passed me by, as I was working too hard!
- Very moving and well researched
- How well was this publicised in Britain (at the time)?
- Interesting new slant on this piece of recent history. Usually difficult to make a lot of ‘talking heads’ interesting but the film succeeded
- A fascinating piece of history but film not always easy to follow