Original title:Mudos Testigos
Direction:Jerónimo Atehortúa Arteaga e Luis Ospina
Screenplay:Luis Ospina / Jerónimo Atehortúa / Juan Mora
Editing:Juan Mora / Federico Atehortúa
Sound:Mercedes Gaviria / Diana Martínez / José Gaviria
Music: Carlos Quebrada
Columbian productors: Jerónimo Atehortúa / Juan Mora / Lina González
French productors: Eva Chillón
Silent Witnesses is an imaginary journey through the history of Colombia (and its cinema) during the convulsive first half of the 20th century, using solely the surviving footage of Colombian silent cinema. This melodrama shows the impossible love story between Efraín and Alicia as it runs through the political turmoil of the first decades of the 20th century in Colombia. What begins with Efraín falling in love with Alicia, a woman engaged to marry Uribe, a powerful and vengeful strongman, quickly develops into a revealing journey into the heart of the jungle, where Efraín will witness the humiliating conditions of the peasants in the south of the country and the birth of an armed rebellion. This is the posthumous work of Luis Ospina, one of the most influential filmmakers in the Latin American documentary tradition, as well as the first film of producer and film critic Jerónimo Atehortua.
In Colombia, only 12 feature silent films were made. Of those, 2 are fully preserved, 2 are lost and only fragments remain from the rest. Documentary silent films are far more scattered and it is hard to pin down the exact number. All in all, about 4 hours of documentary footage is preserved. Silent Witnesses is solely made with these images. This is a work with and about memory, which is at the same time a work with and about the future: a Utopian work. Archives are kept with the hope of surviving the present of their original creation in order to reappear in the future. They are time machines that not only document a past time, but also project the past into the future, liberating its hidden forces. Archive materials are normally seen as fruit of their time. Their common use constraints them to their time of creation. The ultimate purpose of Silent Witnesses is to work with the images of the past in order to liberate the utopian spirit that is dormant in them. The free use of the footage will charge it with new energies and emotions.