2023 Jury Winner El Equipo Makes Hot Docs 20

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El Equipo (The Team) (Bernardo Ruiz, 81 mins), which won the Jury Award for Best Documentary Feature at this year’s SebDocs Festival, made the recently released HotDocs Audience Top 20.

HotDocs, which celebrated its 30th anniversary in early May, occupies a key role in the North American documentary industry. The Canadian institution is North America’s largest documentary film festival and its preeminent international documentary market.

The fifth feature from Emmy-nominated filmmaker and multi-year SebDocs alumni Bernardo Ruiz, El Equipo chronicles the history-making collaboration between legendary forensic scientist Dr. Clyde Snow, human rights investigator/researcher Eric Stover, and the group of students who would go on to form the Argentine Forensic Anthropology Team.

Part procedural, part true crime thriller, the doc narrates the decades-long relationship between Snow and the student forensic team, which would go on to reveal the truth to Argentine families about their disappeared loved ones, generating evidence that led to the conviction of hundreds of perpetrators in and out of government. The film also examines some of the team’s other high-profile cases, including the El Mozote massacre in El Salvador, and later the case of the missing 43 students in Mexico, where members of the team have faced threats, spying and official attempts to discredit their work.  

The film also models an alternative method of engaging with true crime by focusing on systemic political and human rights abuses rather than on one-off tales of murder or lone serial killers, deftly creating a direct link between state atrocities from the past and present.

The doc, the history it tells, and the related, Oscar® nominated film Argentina, 1985 (Santiago Mitre, 140 mins) was also the subject of a recent NBC News feature, which you can find right here.

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