‘The challenge: 11M’: emotion and outrage to explain a brutal tragedy

A year and a half ago, Amazon Prime Video premiered ‘The challenge: ETA’, a detailed documentary series that dealt with the 40 years of murders of the terrorist group. Another painful event in the country’s recent history is now the focus of the second season of the docuseries: 11-M. This Friday, the same day that marks the 18th anniversary of the brutal terrorist attack that left 192 dead and 1,857 injured in Madrid, the platform intends to delve into the multiple dimensions of the biggest attack in the history of Europe, taking advantage of the new perspective that the pass of the time. Of course, the testimonies of the victims, their relatives and everyone who stepped on that Dantesque scene (health personnel, volunteers, security agents) continue to excite just as the first day.

“One of the great values ​​of this work is that we have the privilege of distance, the historical perspective”, affirms its director, Carlos Agullo, author of documentaries such as ”Complot for Peace’ and ‘The Other Days’. “We have shot it in the last year and people can speak freely, as perhaps he could not 10 years ago, because he no longer answers to a political or administrative position”, he points out, distancing himself from ’11M’, the documentary on the same subject that Netflix premiered a few weeks ago, which also has testimonies from time That explains, for example, that Amazon did not participate Pilar Manjon, president of the 11-M Association Affected by Terrorism between 2004 and 2016, which does appear on Netflix. “It is not that I have said yes to one and no to the other in the same year,” Agulló clarifies. The two candidates for the presidency also declined in the elections of that year, Jose Luis Rodriguez Zapatero and Mariano Rajoy.

150 hours of recording

Between the 65 interviews (and 150 hours of recording) that includes ‘The challenge: 11M’ with survivors, witnesses, journalists (Antonio García Ferreras, Pedro Jota Ramírez, José Antonio Zarzalejos, Jesús Ceberio, Lorenzo Milá, Alfredo Urdaci), judges, members of the security forces, the former head of the CNI (Jorge Dezcallar), the widow of El Chino (one of those implicated who blew himself up in Leganés) and political leaders (Eduardo Zaplana, Elena Valenciano, José Blanco…), there is also a recent chat with Jose Maria Aznarwhich again justifies the action in the PP during those convulsive days.

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because the political dimension charged by 11M is one of the aspects that this docuseries focuses on the most, contrasting the different versions. “We have a country that is quite polarized and these things happen,” reflects Agulló, who acknowledges that the most complicated part of the shoot was deciding “where it was abbreviated and where it had to be extended”, in the case of a case with so many ramifications. “We are not researchers or historians, but storytellers, and what was clear to us is that we had to make a documentary that sticks to what is proven, because if we start to speculate it is very dangerous,” he stresses.

It also helped them to structure the docuseries in four episodes of 50 minutes that were not marked by the chronological order of the events, but tell the story from different points of view “and from a different cinematographic genre”. The first gives a voice to victims and witnesses; the second recounts the attack through politicians and the media ahead of the elections a few days later; the third explains the attack from the point of view of the police and those involved, and the fourth focuses on the trial. Thus, the emotion caused by the testimonies of the victims is combined with the indignation generated in the viewer by the partisan use that politics makes of one of the greatest tragedies experienced in Spain, as denounced by several of the people who climbed that fateful day to the trains that were blown up.

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