Taking care of business: Jonathan Perel on Corporate Accountability

INTERVIEW: Modern Times Review talks with Argentina's Jonathan Perel on his Berlinale-premiered new film, Corporate Accountability

Neil Young
Young is a regular contributor to Modern Times Review.
Published date: May 1, 2020

Argentinian film-maker Jonathan Perel has dedicated his entire career to forensically exploring the realities and consequences of the military dictatorship that dominated his country from 1976 (the year of his birth) to 1983. He came to international prominence via his award-winning 2015 feature-length work Toponymy (Toponímia), and has recently unveiled his follow-up, Corporate Accountability (Responsabilidad empresarial), in the Forum section of the Berlinale.

In this new film he «adapts» an official publication from November 2015 entitled Responsabilidad empresarial en delitos de lesa humanidad. Represión a trabajadores durante el terrorismo de Estado («Corporate accountability in crimes against humanity: Repression of workers during state terrorism.») Perel personally visits 25 industrial sites across Argentina, each of them run by companies who collaborated with the «civic-military» government of the junta years—including multinationals such as Ford and Mercedes-Benz, filming them through the windscreen of his car as he narrates an official account of each enterprise’s misdeeds.

Jonathan Perel-MTR-Interview-post1
Corporate Accountability, a film by Jonathan Perel

What exactly is the publication you used as the starting-point for your film?
It is an official report published by the Ministry of Justice and Human Rights of Argentina. This means it’s the state describing how these companies helped in the repression and disappearance of its own workers, mainly union delegates. This is important because it means it’s not simply myself who is investigating or deciding which companies to include, but the government itself.

And the narration is a selection of passages…
At the beginning of the film, I read the title, date, publishing house; all the information that appears on the first page. The film finishes when I read the last …

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