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Filmmaker Marialuisa Ramírez Launches Campaign to Raise Awareness of Enforced Disappearances


Filmmaker Marialuisa Ramirez (pictures far right) with family (Image: Marialuisa Ramirez)

South American filmmaker Marialuisa Ramírez  launched a crowdfunding campaign for her feature documentary Searching for Wandering Souls. The documentary follows Ramírez in her search to locate the remains of her uncle Guillermo Ernst, a freedom fighter killed by the Argentine government in 1976.

The 22-day Kickstarter and social media campaign (#WanderingSouls) aims to increase global awareness of enforced disappearance and political repression, and to raise $50,000 for the completion of Ramírez’s documentary.

“Finding the remains of missing loved ones and burying them with dignity is something that has been denied to over 30,000 families in South America,” said the director in a press statement. “This documentary will bring closure and healing to many families all over the planet. This campaign is about justice. Together we can change lives, heal the global community, and truly make a difference.”

We spoke with Ramírez about her documentary, the social media campaign launched to bring awareness about disappeared people and the legacy of her uncle:

Martinez: Talk to me about your uncle, Guillermo Ernst, and the impact his life and death has had on your family?

Ramírez: Right after Guillermo Ernst disappeared in 1976, his brother Carlos Ernst had to escape Argentina. He read the news about the shooting in a newspaper, grabbed a bag and crossed the border on the same day. He left family behind. He was afraid he would be captured as well because he was also part of the resistance.

My grandmother, his mom, suffered terribly until she died in 2000. Her life was never the same after Guillermo disappeared, she endlessly searched for answers. She never knew what had happened to her child, if he had been tortured or the whereabouts of his body.

Why was it so important for you to create this documentary, Searching for Wandering Souls?

I think it’s my duty to create visibility for the disappeared. The drama that my family endured for 35 years is still happening today. The same story has happened over and over throughout history and in different parts of the world.

Even today, there is a group of Central American mothers looking for their 70,000 missing children who died on their way to find a better life in the US.

What is your ultimate goal in sharing your uncle’s story, as well as the story of other’s who have been unjustly killed and gone missing?

I want to make visible the invisible. I want to honor their dead, show their cause and their ideals. In the memories of who they were and why they died lies a secret for us to discover. I want to find it and show it to the world.

If your Kickstarter campaign is fully funded, how will it help you in creating Searching for Wandering Souls? What will be your next steps? 

My next step will be to find more South American families—one in Chile and one in Bolivia. Fly there and interview them.

Then I’ll go to Mexico where the Argentine group of anthropology is searching for the missing bodies of Central American people. I’ll follow the exhumation process, if possible. I’ll interview mothers of the disappeared. In NYC, I’ll interview historians, Anthropologist, human right activist.

If you’d like to support Searching for Wandering Souls, check out the Kickstarter campaign here. Also, follow the campaign on Twitter, Facebook and YouTube.

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