This movie has become an absolute must, as there have been very few movies in Spanish cinema dealing with the mafia-like terrorist band ETA, and no one was filmed dealing with the suffering of terrorism victims ever. The lack of interest in ETA is explained by fear, as ETA has killed journalists and elected politicians as part of its mafia-like strategy of terror (many of the crew refused to put their complete name in credits: they appear just as initials).
But this is not a political film, it provokes reflection in the spectator, but that reflection has a moral dimension. The principal element in this documentary movie are the interviews with relatives of thirteen victims of ETA (from the one thousand that ETA has killed), they are the only protagonists and they are the only actors. The crimes they suffered are reconstructed with their accounts and archive images. It is not just an exercise of realism with past stories but in the interviews "is" the reality itself : the effects of the crimes are present in those people years after they were committed as have been present everyday since then.
This plain approach of showing only the point of view of victims of terrorism without cinematographic artifacts, without a narrator and practically without music succeeds in showing all the desolation that has changed the course of so many lives in Spain.
Although the responsible for the tragedies, the terrorists and their supporters, don't appear ever, they are present in the atmosphere of fear in the population of that Spanish region, the Basque Country. The society is frightened by murders and mobster extortion. This increases the sorrow of victims, as they feel the criminals can persist in their terror strategy. An example is the story of Pilar Elías, the widow of an elected politician murdered by a terrorist from their same little town (he had saved the life of his future killer when the later was a child), now Pilar is a councilwoman in that town and the terrorists have also attempted to kill her with a bomb. Her life is a hell among bodyguards and she has always to think where will the terrorists attempt to kill her again, "but they will not expel me from my town", she says.
Another difficulty that the victims continue suffering after the crimes were committed is expressed in the movie: the society and institutions have neglected to provide enough counseling and support to them because of a mixture of fear and lack of commitment against the Mafioso nationalists, that have an unspoken power in that society. But at he end of the movie there is an indication for hope that things could be changing: nowadays victims of terrorism obtain much more solidarity expressions from Spanish society than ever.
Steven Spielberg was involved in dealing with the suffering of victims of another genocide through the creation of "Survivors of the Shoah Visual History Foundation" that produced a series of documentaries about the suffering of surviving victims after the holocaust. We can compare "Thirteen among a thousand" with these documentary movies based in interviews with victims (Spielberg's approach to terrorism, "Munich", is not a documentary, and the point of view of victims is not the main topic for that movie). This comparison is relevant as somebody (mainly the supporters of terrorists, but also people with confused moral principles) object to "Thirteen among a thousand" that it is not told the point of view of terrorists. These people are in favor of a political documentary, "The Basque ball" (2003, by Julio Medem): its director said that he wanted to explain in it all the points of view to the terrorist conflict (mainly with interviews with politicians, but also with the sympathizers with terrorists). It is clear that Medem did not risked his live as Arteta has done, since the supporters of Basque nationalist terrorism were pleased with the "Basque ball". But one question is necessary to be asked: those confused moral principles that claim that all the points of view must be considered, would also claim that interviews with the Nazis should be displayed together with interviews with their victims?
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