Our Voices (Nuestras Voces)
Documentary directed by Diana Páez
Spanish with English subtitles
Showing nationally as part of the Spanish Film Festival
This new documentary uses an interwoven series of interviews to narrate the experiences of Spaniards and Latin Americans who arrived in Victoria in the 1960s and 70s.
While focusing on that first generation of migrants, the documentary does a good job at presenting the diversity that exists within the Spanish-speaking communities in Australia.
Voices from Colombia, Chile, Guatemala, Peru, Spain and Uruguay are represented. Many of the subjects sought asylum while escaping terrifying right-wing dictatorships. Others came seeking new horizons pushed by varying circumstances.
The stories are very emotional at times, addressing culture shock and other challenges these migrant communities have encountered in Australia through the decades. They also portray their resourcefulness, and the valuable contributions they continue to make to the wider society to this day, such as in research about and support for survivors of torture and trauma, and the establishment of the Special Broadcasting Service (SBS).
This feature-length documentary is a solid debut for young Colombian-Australian director Diana Paez, seamlessly blending fragments from spontaneous interviews conducted online — enforced by recent pandemic restrictions — with eye-catching high-definition photography.
Although the documentary avoids comparisons, for the critically-minded audience it offers a kind of historical point of reference in stark contrast with the cruelty of Australia’s current treatment of asylum-seekers. In this regard, the documentary favours a general sense of optimism, rather than taking more defined political stances.
Those unaware of the place that Spanish-speaking communities occupy in Australian society will learn a fair bit from this documentary, while those with a similar story as those interviewed will probably relate to their experiences.
Younger generations who have migrated more recently will gain insight into how things have changed, and how those who came before have had a much more active agency than usually acknowledged in forming of the diverse Australian society we know today.
The trailer for Our Voices can be seen here.