Daniel Nelson

'Nae Pasara'n is a tearjerker – if your tears are jerked by four elderly Scots trade unionists who stopped a production line in 1974.

Nae Pasaran

Nae Pasaran

Image by Nae Pasaran

Mine are, because I see their action as an example of international solidarity with people oppressed by fascist dictatorships.

They discovered that the eight rolls Royce engines on which they were working in East Kilbride were destined for Hawker Hunter jet fighters deployed by General Pinochet in Chile.

Immediately they tied warning labels to the offending engine parts ("Some people do the best they can, and some don't"). Such was the power of trades unions in those far-off days that no-one was prepared to override the ban.

The men's action briefly made headlines, time moved on, Pinochet was forced out, demoracy was restored. The incident was forgotten, the four men grew old and retired. They never doubted the morality of their action but they did not know its impact.

Until Bustos Sierra, the Scotland-based son of a Chilean exile, decided to follow up the story. He filmed the four as they recounted what had happened, flew to Chile to meet the former airforce chief and descendants of Chilean Hawker Hunter pilots, and interviewed rights activists and British Foreign Office officials.

In one of the interviews, the son of a pilot killed in a Hawker crash – perhaps because the Chileans were forced into do-it-yourself repairs to keep the planes flying – lets slip that years ago he had dumped some aircraft parts on an unused patch of land.

The disclosure is a documentary director's dream. Sure enough, when Sierra brushes away the leaves and dirt he finds the engine of one of the aircraft that stopped the production line in Scotland.

The part is shipped back to East Kilbride, the tale of the four pensioners' resistance gets a new life and they receive Chile's highest medal at a ceremoney at which former Chilean political prisoners thank the men on video for their solidarity.

It's touching and moving, and if you needed reassuring about the impact of acts of solidarity – even if it's only writing letters to political prisoners – here it is.

It's a lovely film, which combines affection for the unassuming, down-to-earth humanity of the Scottish workers with a powerful potted history of the cruelty of the Pinochet regime.

+  Nae Pasaran is in UK cinemas from 2 November:  https://naepasaran.com/

 

 

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