Obituary: Remembering the Life of Joan Jara

After her husband, the folk singer Victor Jara, was murdered during the military coup in Chile in September 1973, Joan Jara returned to Britain with her two young children. Stanley Forman, a distributor of leftwing documentaries, offered to provide funding and production for a short film that friends hoped would alleviate some of the pressure in Joan’s life. He then asked me to take on the role of director.

While filming interviews, we had to reload the camera with fresh film every 10 minutes, which could potentially disrupt the building of a connection. In just nine minutes, Joan passionately recounted the circumstances leading to Victor’s death.

That testimony became the heart and soul of a 50-minute documentary titled “Compañero: Victor Jara of Chile” (1975), which was broadcasted in Britain by Thames Television. It was an integral part of Joan’s relentless campaign spanning decades to uncover and confront her husband’s killers, as well as those responsible for the downfall of Salvador Allende’s Popular Unity government.

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