March 2015, due to political pressure and false pretenses, Carmen Aristegui, the main voice of independent journalism in Mexico, is fired with her team from the MVS Radio station. The next day more than 200,000 people demonstrate and sign a petition calling for her return on air and the end of censorship. Despite this exceptional mobilization, the station does not give way.
Who is this woman behind famous Mexican journalist? How did she become a popular figure of resistance and freedom of expression in Mexico? Who are her main enemies? Why is she still alive when dozens of her colleagues have been murdered in recent years and months? Does she find herself trapped in a role she did not want to endorse?
This documentary captures Carmen’s enduring and dangerous fight to recreate a space of freedom of speech and keep informing her listeners. In some other country this might be an easier task, but in Mexico, where social and economic situation is dominated by drug traffickers and political corruption, Carmen and her team have an uphill battle. Through testimonials, archive footage and social networks excerpts, we follow Carmen and her team in a large ongoing investigation conducted alongside the construction of her new internet radio station.
RADIO SILENCE immerses us in the fight of Carmen Aristegui, a woman inhabited by an extraordinary courage. A fight against monopolistic concentration of the media, against an authoritarian and corrupt political system, all in a climate undermined by threats and constant intimidation of drug traffickers.
SCREENINGS & AWARDS
2019 World Premiere: Zürich Film Festival – Documentary Competition
2019 International Premiere: IDFA – Frontlight
- 2019 This Human World Vienna
- 2020 Solothurn Film Festival
- 2020 FIPADOC
- 2020 FIFDH Geneva
- 2020 FICUNAM (Latin American Premiere)
- 2020 Ambulante Mexico
- 2020 Tempo Film Festival
- 2020 Human Rights Human Wrongs
- 2020 Human Rights Watch London and New York
- 2020 DOK.fest Munich
- 2020 Doc Montevideo, Documentary Week of Uruguay
- 2020 DOKUFEST Kosovo
- 2020 Bertha DocHouse
- 2020 Hola Mexico
- 2020 Take One Action
- 2020 San Diego Latino Film Fest
- 2020 It’s All True Sao Paulo
- 2020 UNAFF
- 2020 Inconvenient Films
- 2020 Millenium Documentary Film Festival
- 2020 Valladolid Seminci
- 2020 Hawaii IFF
- 2020 Festival de Huelva Cine Iberoamericano
- 2020 Kasseler Dokfest
- 2020 JAYU Human Rights FF
- 2020 Solidarity Tel Aviv HRFF
- 2021 Doclisboa (Portuguese Premiere)
- 2021 Festival of Latin American Women in Arts (FLAWA)
More: Beldocs, Human Rights Film Festival Inconvenient Films Lithuania, Human Rights Film Festival Berlin, Filmfest FrauenWelten Terre des Femmes Berlin, Französische Filmtage Tübingen Stuttgart, Portland Latin American FF, Fesaalp, Films4 Transparency Festival – International Anti-Corruption Conference, World Press Freedom Conference 2020, Sofia DocuMental, Festival International du Film Politique, DOC-Cévennes
Reviews: Los Angeles Times, La Opinión, Los Angeles Times, Women and Hollywood, PopMatters, Remezcla, The Boston Globe, Newstalk interview, The Guardian, Remezcla, Aesthetica, Latino Life, Telerama, Variety, Modern Times Review by Carmen Gray, Modern Times Review by Dieter Wieczorek, Cineuropa review
- SIMA – Social Impact Awards 2020 for the Best Edited Documentary Feature
- Special Mention for Human Rights Doc Competition at DOKUFEST, August 2020
Special mention for RADIO SILENCE for addressing a topic of special importance — freedom of expression and freedom of the press — specifically in Mexico, but not only. We commend the filmmakers for their commitment to follow their protagonist — an incorruptible journalist and a brave woman who refuses to be intimidated or silenced — over the course of several years.
- Gilda Vieira de Mello Prize by the Barbara Hendricks Foundation for Peace and Reconciliation at the International Film Festival and Forum on Human Rights – FIFDH, Geneva, March 2020
Radio Silence delves deeply into the brave spirit of journalist Carmen Aristegui, and explores all of her complexity, generosity and intelligence in one of the most dangerous countries to work as a reporter uncovering corruption – Mexico. The feminist solidarity and long term commitment on the part of director Juliana Fanjul to making sure the world knows about this human rights heroine will inspire audiences everywhere.
- Cinelatino & DishLATINO Audience Choice Award, Hola Mexico FF 2020
- First Prize in Time of History section at Valladolid Seminci 2020
- A38 Production-Grant Kassel-Halle 2020 at the Kassel Dokfest 2020, aimed at young filmmakers who address a young audience
The defense of freedom of speech and press is essential these days. The Mexican journalist Carmen Aristegui puts her life at risk every day in the exercise of her profession, reporting on corruption and crime in her home country. Filmmaker Juliana Fanjul accompanies her in her daily struggle. With unobtrusive pictures the director gives a deep insight behind the scenes of a channel that will not be muted. “Silence Radio” is a rousing portrait of a courageous woman with an important political message. At the end of the film a long car journey leads to the sentence: “Optimism is a moral duty ”. This is also the opinion of the jury and one of the reasons why the A38 Production Grant goes to Juliana Fanjul with her film “Silence Radio”.
- Honorable mention in the International Documentary Feature Film category, Festival Internacional de Cine Ícaro
- WACC-SIGNIS Human Rights Award 2020
DIRECTOR’S BIOGRAPHY & FILMOGRAPHY
Born in Mexico in 1981. Received BA in Visual Communication. Attended EICTV (International Cinema and TV School of San Antonio de los Baños), documentary department. Worked as a director’s assistant. 2011 Exchange program to live in Switzerland. 2012-14 Masters in Cinema Studies, a joint program between ECAL (École Cantonale d’Art de Lausanne) and HEAD (Haute École d’Art et Design) in Geneva.
2019 Silence Radio, 78’
2015 Muchachas, 64’
2014 Dottor Clown, 52’
2014 Cuba Calling, 25’
2013 Hilda e Helena, 22’
2010 Si seguimos vivos, 24’
2009 Sustento, 13’
2009 La plaga de la cereza, 10’
I came to Switzerland several years ago not only for my filmmaking studies, but also as an immigrant escaping the daily corruption and violence holding hostage my home country, Mexico. Although I was feeling safe in a peaceful Swiss socio-political reality, on the 13th of March 2015 I had a feeling that wave of injustice and violence crossed the Atlantic and overwhelmed my apartment in Geneva.
This news shocked me for two reasons. The voice of one of the last incorruptible journalists in my country was silenced, but I was also deprived of my right to unbiased and necessary information. A right that I was sharing with an audience of over 18 million Mexican!
I was listening to Carmen on the radio for more than 20 years. Back when I was a teenager, Carmen already played an important role in shaping my identity as an independent woman and she opened my eyes for social injustice.
Once in Geneva, I continued to follow her daily its broadcast, mainly to keep myself updated with the latest news from my country, but also as her speech questioned freedom in a broad sense. Her sudden silence first created a feeling of a great loss, I was an orphan of truth. I was obsessively seeking answers to this arbitrary act.
During the following weeks I sank into a deep concern which went far beyond the Mexican context. Couple of months after finishing my first feature film, Muchachas (Visions du Real, 2015), I transformed my anger into a creative impulse and decided to invest myself in writing this story.
Directed by Juliana Fanjul
DOP Jérôme Colin
Sound Carlos Ibanez Diaz
Editor Yael Bitton
Music Marc Parazon
Produced by Philippe Coeytaux and Nicolas Wadimoff – Akka Films and Jose Cohen Ovadia – Cactus Docs
In association with RTS Radio Télévision Suisse
PRODUCER’S BIOGRAPHY & FILMOGRAPHY
Born in1965 in Geneva, Philippe Coeytaux has
successively held numerous positions in television and film production since 1998. Since spring of 2015, he is a member of Akka Films’ management as senior producer.
Nicolas Wadimoff was born in 1964 in Geneva and is a Swiss director, documentary filmmaker and producer. In 1988 he graduated from UQUAM (Université du Québec à Montréal) in communications with a specialization in cinema. Nicolas made his first documentary in 1990. He worked as a film director at Radio Télévision Suisse (RTS) and in 2003 founded Akka Films, devoted to the development of fiction films and production of documentaries. He has directed more than 20 films, both fiction and documentaries, among them multi-awarded CLANDESTINS (1997), AISHEEN, STILL ALIVE IN GAZA (2010), OPERATION LIBERTAD (2012), SPARTIATES (2014), JEAN ZIEGLER, THE OPTIMISM OF WILLPOWER (2016) and THE APOLO OF GAZA (2018) which have been shown at major international film festivals such as Berlinale, Festival del Film Locarno, Canne’s Director’s Fortnight.
Philippe Coeytaux and Nicolas Wadimoff
Since 2003, AKKA FILMS has dedicated itself to art-house documentaries, fiction films and television programs. Based in Geneva, at the crossroads of Europe, we favor works of international and universal scope, although strongly anchored and incarnated in their regions of origin: powerful, comtemporary and singular films carried by an affirmed vision of their authors. This approach naturally leads us to co-produce most of our projects in order to offer them the widest resonance.
Akka Films production board gathers founder and filmmaker Nicolas Wadimoff, and producers Philippe Coeytaux and Palmyre Badinier.
Cactus Docs has focused on relevant social and environmental issues with a view to raising consciousness and encouraging change for the better. Our in-house independent productions have received the highest national and international recognition and prizes around the world. We have worked with recognizable directors and producers.
Jose Cohen Ovadia is a journalist turned documentary producer. He first left Mexico City, his home town, at the age of 16 to study at an alternative arts school. He graduated from the Cambridge School of Weston, Massachusetts in 1988. In 1933 Jose started his career in the international news business. Initially a soundman for NBC, some of his assignments included: the war in Chechnya; the assassination of Pablo Escobar in Colombia and the assassination of Cardenal Posadas Ocampo in Guadalajara/ the first capture of Joaquin “el chapo” Guzman in Guatemala. By 1997 Jose had founded his own production house Cactus Film and Video which to date is one of Mexico’s key providers of services for international media and independent production companies.