Director C.M. Hardt searches for truth with “Death in El Valle.”
There are those who try to forget particular remnants of history, and there are those like C.M. Hardt, who try to revive that which has been forgotten.
Hardt, an award-winning photographer and filmographer, delivered a presentation called “Ghost of Franco” on Wednesday in the President’s Dining Room.
She began her career in 1988 working for The Village Voice, and then worked as a contributor for the New York Times.
Her story begins when she discovers that her grandfather, Francisco Redondo Perez, had been murdered.
In all efforts to unearth the authoritarian regime under Franco in Spain, Hardt finds out that her grandfather had in fact been murdered by the right-wing Civil Guard, disregarding the claim that he had died of a pulmonary hemorrhage.
“Death in El Valle” was Hardt’s attempt at bringing her family justice, and having Perez’s true cause of death revealed.
The film won Best Documentary at the 2007 Backlot Film Festival in Los Angeles, giving Hardt the well-deserved recognition in her attempts to discover the truth of her murdered grandfather.
The presentation had the audience laughing and weeping, and going through a stir of emotions, relating even more to Hardt.
The 60-minute documentary introduces us to Hardt’s family in Spain, focusing more so on immediate members.
The four and a half year process of filming began when Hardt arrived in Spain, ready to uncover Perez’s forgot death, with almost immediate interviewing of villagers in El Valle along with family members.
It was as though Franco’s reign had scarred those in Spain, as many were reluctant to answer Hardt’s questions.
A simple “do you know what happened to my grandfather,” was received with the general, stern responses of “I know nothing.”
Family members were even more so reluctant to answer questions on Perez’s murderer.
“We don’t want to know who it is. If we know who he is, or where he lives, we might kill him,” said her uncle, Pablo Martinez. “People don’t want to remember. They want to forget about the bad times.”
Hardt discovered that her grandparents had both been detained, after the Civil Guard discovered that they were hosting guerrilla members in their home.
Only six days after their imprisonment, Francisco Redondo Perez was taken away, while Josefa Martinez, Hardt’s grandmother watched helplessly.
Perez was taken to a hill above the village, and shot by Servando Molero and Ignacio Gil Perdidones.
“I’ve always been really disturbed by human rights issues,” Hardt said.
“And I had been really disturbed by what happened to my grandfather. I wanted to find out the truth and bring my family to justice,” he said.
The floor was open to questions, as students and faculty alike, continued to ask her of her quest.
The presentation was then moved to the foyer for refreshments.
“I was really impacted by her presentation,” said sophomore broadcasting and Spanish major Daniella Villegas.
“You could tell that some of the audience members were connecting with the film. It’s hard not to be touched by something as sensitive as death,” Villegas said.
The documentary revealed a number of scandals, testing the emotions of all in El Valle.
Hardt’s film was well received here at the University of La Verne, with audience members impressed by her bravery.
Marla Bahloul can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.