Glasgow Film Festival closes with story of workers who defied dictator

The Glasgow Film Festival has to come to an end with the story of four Scots who defied Pinochet.
Nae Pasaran at the Glasgow Film Festival.Nae Pasaran at the Glasgow Film Festival.
Nae Pasaran at the Glasgow Film Festival.

Nae Pasaran tells the true story of East Kilbride Rolls Royce factory workers who managed to ground half of Chile’s Air Force with the longest single act of solidarity against the dictatorship.

More than 40 years later their story has been taken to the big screen by director Felipe Bustos Sierra and became the feature film for the closing gala of the festival.

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Stuart Barrie, who was one of the men who made the stand against the dictatorship, said: “Not for a minute did it ever occur to me that it would come to this when we took that action.

“It was an act of humanity, really - we knew civilians were getting bombed by their own military.

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“We knew there was torture, we knew there was murder, so when we found out they needed these engines we decided to take action.”

General Augusto Pinochet’s coup in 1973 and the dictatorship which followed claimed thousands of lives, with many still disappeared and hundreds of thousands were sent into exile.

The Hawker Hunter was one of Britain’s most exported military aircrafts, with over 20 Air Forces flying them - including Chile’s - with all of them powered the Rolls-Royce Avon.

By the 1970s, all these engines were repaired in the same factory in East Kilbride.

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With nowhere else to go for maintenance, the workers’ action was believed it could have a big impact on air force’s capability.

Robert Somerville, John Keenan, Bob Fulton and Mr Barrie were all on the red carpet on Sunday to see the story of their four-year boycott on screen.

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Mr Sierra added: “I heard of this story when I was a kid, my father was in exile from the Chilean dictatorship.

“The story of Nae Pasaran was one of the stories being told at the time to boost morale.

“When I came to Scotland a few years ago I started looking more into it.”