Baltasar Garzón, the movie
Isabel Coixet's interview-documentary due to screen at Berlinale in February
It was one of the best-kept secrets of Spanish cinema. At the end of last autumn, Isabel Coixet shot the documentary Escuchando al juez Garzón, (or, Listening to judge Garzón), a 90-minute film that summarizes a wide-ranging interview conducted with the former high court judge by writer Manuel Rivas.
In the film, Baltasar Garzón looks back over his personal and professional trajectory, without dodging a single question. On Friday, producers were putting the final touches to the film, the existence of which would have remained secret until its February 11 screening at the Berlinale, were it not for the fact that later the same day, the German festival announced that it was among the features in its Special Events section.
The 55-year-old crusading judge's career is on hold after a series of legal challenges from domestic detractors who would have him banned from his profession. The news of the film's release has coincided with the announcement on Thursday that the Supreme Court's prosecutor will side with Garzón's challenge that five justices are partial and must step down from his trial.
Garzón stands accused of overstepping his authority as a judge for his attempt to open an inquiry into human rights abuses committed during the Franco-era. He is also fighting a charge that he received illicit payments for a series of US lectures, which is being investigated by conservative investigating magistrate Manuel Marchena. Thus far, investigations have shown his finances to be in perfect order. A third case alleges he ordered illegal wire taps in the ongoing corruption case known as Gürtel, in which the conservative opposition Popular Party is embroiled. Garzón, who is best known for his attempts to bring Chilean dictator Pinochet to justice, was suspended from duty in May 2010 pending the outcome of these investigations.
Escuchando a Garzón was inspired by Isabel Coixet's desire to examine the thoughts of the lawyer who now divides his time between The Hague where he is working with the International Criminal Court, and Madrid. Many of Garzón's worries are laid out in his book, Un mundo sin miedo (or, A world without fear), written as a collection of letters to his children on his suspension from the High Court.
The Catalan film director seems to have acquired a taste for documentaries. Her latest work, Aral, la orilla perdida (or, Aral Sea, the lost shore) for the We Are Water Foundation, reflects on the ecological and human crisis provoked by the manmade disappearance of what was once one of the biggest lakes in the world, the Aral sea.