In Search Of Justice Panel – El Equipo
In Search Of Justice is a panel discussion with Emmy® nominated director Bernardo Ruiz and and international human rights investigator Eric Stover, which followed the SDFF 2023 screening of Ruiz’s newest doc, El Equipo (The Team) at SDFF 2023. The doc is Ruiz’s the fifth feature film and chronicles the efforts of a collaborative team of forensic scientists and university students whose work challenged official cover-ups by violent and repressive regimes in Latin America and the United States. Stover is among the investigators whose work is featured in the film.
El Equipo Film Details
Working with a trove of archival materials spanning four decades and unfolding as part procedural, part true crime thriller, El Equipo (Bernardo Ruiz, 80 mins) chronicles the history-making collaboration between Dr. Clyde Snow, a legendary forensic scientist originally from Texas, Eric Stover, a human rights investigator and researcher who worked alongside Snow for decades, and a group of Argentine university students.
The students would go on to form the Argentine Forensic Anthropology Team, which revealed 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, as depicted recently in the Oscar® nominated fiction film Argentina, 1985 (Santiago Mitre, 140 mins).
Narrating the relationship between Snow and the forensic team, El Equipo delves into some of the most high-profile cases of the team’s history 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. Snow’s legacy is also examined in countries like Guatemala, where Snow mentored forensic scientist Fredy Peccerelli and helped create a Guatemalan forensic team.
With an unprecedented access to the Argentine Forensic Anthropology Team and its archives, El Equipo offers a welcome twist to the to the traditional true crime film by focusing on systemic political and human rights abuses rather than on one-off tales of murder or lone serial killers, and deftly creates a direct link between state atrocities from the past and present.
El Equipo. USA, 2023, 80 min. In Spanish and English with English subtitles. A co- production of Quiet Pictures and ITVS in association with Latino Public Broadcasting. Directed and produced by Bernardo Ruiz; edited and co-produced by Fabian Caballero; produced by Gabriela Alcalde; executive producers: Sally Jo Fifer, Lois Vossen, Sandie Viquez Pedlow, James Costa, Simon Kilmurry; original score by T. Griffin.
Bernardo Ruiz is a two-time Emmy®-nominated documentary filmmaker and a member of the Academy of Motion Pictures Arts and Sciences. He was born in Guanajuato, Mexico and grew up in Brooklyn, New York. El Equipo is his fifth documentary feature as director. His feature credits as director include: The Infinite Race (ESPN’s 30 for 30, 2020), Harvest Season (Independent Lens, 2019), Kingdom of Shadows (Participant Media, 2015) and Reportero (POV, 2013).
Eric Stover is Co-Faculty Director of the Human Rights Center and Adjunct Professor of Law and Public Health at UC Berkeley. With forensic anthropologist Clyde Snow, Stover helped launch the first forensic investigations of the disappeared in Central and South America. In 1985, he and Snow participated in the forensic investigation of the remains of the infamous Nazi doctor Josef Mengele in São Paulo, Brazil. In the 1990s, he served on several medico-legal investigations as an “Expert on Mission” to the International Criminal Tribunals for the former Yugoslavia and Rwanda. His books include Witnesses from the Grave: The Stories Bones Tell (with Christopher Joyce); Silent Witness: Forensic DNA Analysis in Criminal Investigations and Humanitarian Disasters (edited with Henry Erlich and Tom White) and Hiding in Plain Sight: The Pursuit of War Criminals from Nuremberg to the War on Terror (written with Alexa Koenig and Victor Peskin). He has co-produced several PBS documentaries, including Tulsa: The Fire and the Forgotten (Jonathan Silvers, 2021) and Dead Reckoning: War, Crimes, and Justice from WWII to the War on Terror (Jonathan Silvers, 2017). The 16th Sebastopol Documentary Film Festival runs March 16-19, 2023, followed by a Virtual Festival March 20-29, which features a selection of films from the live fest. Details and tickets are available at sebdocs.org.