John Jay Students Learn from Award-Winning Chilean Filmmakers


The Historical Memory Project (HMP) at John Jay College hosted the producers and director of the Chilean production Una Historia Necesaria (The Suspended Mourning),  winners of the 2018 Best Short Series category of the International Emmys Awards that took place in New York City on November 19, 2018. Made up of 26 “chapters,” the short series documentary tells the story of human rights cases during the years of General Augusto Pinochet’s dictatorship (1973-1990). It includes stellar performances by renowned Chilean actors, such as Alfredo Castro, Alejandro Goic, and Catalina Saavedra. Una Historia Necesaria shows how essential it is not to forget these tragic events in history so that they are not repeated. The series was jointly produced by Tridi Films, Escuela de Cine de Chile, with financing from the country’s National Television Council. It  is available on the online platform of the Chilean TV station, @cntvdechile, and on YouTube.

During a class taught by Professor Suzanne Oboler (LLS), Director Hernán Caffiero, together with Ignacio Villalabeitía from Chilean National Television and Cristobal Tabilo from ProChile, discussed the importance of keeping the memory of the past alive today. Their conversation with the students focused on understanding the ongoing violence and dehumanizing ideologies both in Chile and throughout the Americas. The students were visibly moved and reacted with great empathy and curiosity, raising poignant questions about impunity, justice,  and reconciliation. They also learned from comparing the Chilean case to the struggles for justice in Peru, Guatemala and other countries in Latin America. The presentation and the discussion that followed were clearly impactful for everyone in the class.

As one of the students Rumi Das said, “I want to congratulate the team for their achievements. It is great to see that the shorts series was nominated and won the award. It seems that arresting and disappearing are very common in Chile. The movie expresses how people suffer by losing their relatives. Since it is based on real-life stories, people will become more curious like our fellow classmates did. I hope their work spreads all over the world.”

The Historical Memory Project at John Jay College is engaged in cultivating historical memory to memorialize victims of state-sponsored terror, raise awareness of historical injustices in Latin America and beyond, and foster collective human rights memory.