Felipe Bustos Sierra's documentary Nae Pasaran shows how a group of Rolls-Royce factory workers from East Kilbride put their jobs on the line to take a stand against Chile's military junta
Chile and Scotland are very far apart, but in 1974, news of Pinochet’s military coup had spread across the world to East Kilbride. In Scotland’s first ‘new town’, a group of engineers found themselves empowered by the delivery of four aeroplane engines from the Chilean Airforce in need of repair. Shop steward Bob Fulton knows what these engines have done and he knows he can’t let them go back to do more of the same.
In documentary Nae Pasaran – which closed this year’s Glasgow Film Festival – Chile-born director Felipe Bustos Sierra sits with this group of retired Rolls-Royce workers in a pub and listens to them explain how these events unfolded. As members of a strong union Bob Fulton, Stuart Barr, Robert Somerville and John Keenan could boycott the repair of the engines and, unbeknownst to them, have a direct impact on their Chilean counterparts.
These engines that sat unrepaired in the yard of the Rolls-Royce factory in East Kilbride had been used to bomb the Chilean presidential palace, resulting in the destruction of the country’s democratic government and the death of its democratic president, Salvador Allende. Through digitised film reel and news reports, with the aid of some animation, Sierra introduces us to the Military Dictatorship of Chile. Interviews with survivors of torture, who have since grown old, cast a darkness over the film, yet their gratitude makes you understand how individual acts of kindness can reverberate across the world.
Nae Pasaran has a profound emotional core, found in the humour and sincerity of the personalities of those that acted against a violent military regime on the other side of the planet. These ordinary people, who were trying to work to provide a life for their families – in Chile or in Scotland – demonstrated the danger in opposing the powerful but also the power they could wield when part of a union. The jet engines have since rusted, the junta defeated, but Nae Pasaran makes it clear we still need human solidarity.
Nae Pasaran! is released 2 Nov by Cosmic Cat
The review was originally when Nae Pasaran! closed Glasgow Film Festival 2018