Talking Movies: Stroop, Chris the Swiss and The Silence of Others

Spling reviews Stroop: Journey into the Rhino Horn War, Chris the Swiss and The Silence of Others as broadcast on Talking Movies, Fine Music Radio. Listen to podcast.


“Good morning – welcome to Talking Movies, I’m Spling…

This week, we’re talking about three documentaries screening as part of the Encounters Documentary Film Festival.

Starting off with…


Two first-time filmmakers stop their lives to find out why rhinos are being killed for their horns.

Director: Susan Scott

Features: Bonne de Bod, Axel Tarifa, Kruger Ranger

– Stroop is a wildlife documentary, which seeks to uncover the saga relating to rhino poaching and international trafficking at home and abroad
– starting from a recollection of a harrowing and senseless invasion of a rhino orphanage, journalist and presenter, Bonne de Bod, sets about asking the difficult questions in order to drill down to who’s driving it all
– infotaining in terms of the vicarious investigative format, backed by statistics, key accounts and behind-the-scenes footage, we get a broad and insightful compilation of the travesty and its magnitude.
– shifting the focus from game reserves, their protective measures and recovering calves to undercover journalism in the Far East and then back to government corruption, Stroop is a thorough and all-encompassing look at the rhino crisis
– while many of the interviewees faces are blurred for their own protection, it’s a brave undertaking which shines a spotlight on one of Africa’s Big Five, personalising it to the point of becoming more real and relevant, while building a case against those propagating the industry or turning a blind eye
– it’s a bold, intrepid and important documentary that seeks the truth rather than trying to manipulate the facts, allowing the tragedy to speak for itself and presenting it in such a way that you can’t simply ignore the hard reality

An excellent 8 on the splingometer

Moving on to…


19 years after a young journalist’s body is recovered from war torn Croatia, his cousin seeks to find out what actually happened…

Writer-Director: Anja Kofmel

Features: Joel Basman, Megan Gay and Marko Cindric

– War correspondents need a sense of wanderlust and fearlessness, risking their own lives in entering war-torn districts in order to witness atrocities and trying to make sense of these actions
– this is the story of Chris, a charming and spirited young man, who took it upon himself to fight a war for another country at the age of 17, who made it his mission to get the heart of the Yugoslavian conflict
– reporting in retrospect and following his footsteps, his cousin ventures across the places he would have visited in his time, trying to piece together how he was killed, after his body was recovered in uniform under suspicious circumstances
– part an investigative murder mystery and a part celebration of a young man’s lust for life, this personal and surreal film has touches of Waltz with Bashir and Into the Wild
– using beautifully crafted, hand drawn animation to connect the dots and giving the film an otherworldly feel we are whisked away on a journey back through time, which has personal and universal significance, questioning war and the senselessness of it all
– using voice-over narration predominantly, the documentary has a haunting and magical quality, blending animation with history
– dark, poetic and yet filled with the recklesness of youth, it’s a curious and lovingly crafted animated documentary

A solid 7 on the splingometer!

And finally…


The Silence of Others reveals the epic struggle of victims of Spain’s 40-year dictatorship under General Franco, who continue to seek justice to this day.

Directors: Robert Bahar, Almudena Carracedo

Stars: María Martín, José María Galante and Carlos Slepoy

– This sombre documentary deals with a group of people seeking justice decades after crimes were committed against them and their families
– during Franco’s rule, many heinous crimes were committed and subsequently buried under the all-too-convenient Amnesty Act of 1977
– scarred by the torture they endured, the children that went missing and the family that were murdered, an ever-growing number of plaintiffs take their cases to Argentina to exploit a loophole in The Amnesty Act in order to prosecute war criminals and their cronies back in their homeland
– centring around one specific torturer, his primary victim and an old woman seeking retribution, this documentary seeks to create awareness of the ongoing difficulties around their attempt to find justice in an effort to get closure
– ushering in a new regime doesn’t simply wash away the sins of the previous one and while focused on Spain, the film speaks to many other countries where people have been asked to simply forget without providing an opportunity for outlet or bringing the crimes of a regime to book
– attacking the grey area, presenting the acts of violence and subjugation after the fog and giving voice to the voiceless, this heartbreaking tale presents both sorrow and triumph, attempting to get a multifaceted view of the challenging aftermath

A solid 7 on the splingometer

So just to wrap up…

STROOP… a comprehensive, eye-opening, unflinching and moving investigative wildlife documentary… An excellent 8!

CHRIS THE SWISS… a dark, haunting, surreal, wistful and lovingly animated war documentary… A solid 7!

THE SILENCE OF OTHERS… a heartfelt and triumphant documentary about the scars of historical injustice… A solid 7!

For more movie reviews, interviews and previous Talking Movies podcasts visit splingmovies.com.

And remember, Don’t WING it, SPL!NG it!”