States of Terror

Directed by Arthur MacCaig

59 minutes / Color
French; Spanish; English / English subtitles
Release: 2001
Copyright: 2000

Between 1983 and 1987, the Spanish and French governments sponsored an unprecedented wave of terrorist activity intended to suppress the Basque Separatist movement (ETA).

During this period the Spanish government, with the assistance of the French authorities, directed the Anti-Terrorist Liberation Group (GAL) to target suspected members of ETA. The ensuing series of shootings, bombings and kidnappings left 27 people dead and over 30 seriously injured in the French Basque Country.

Formed in 1959, ETA's objective was to unite the seven Basque provinces that cradle the Spanish-French border into one independent Basque state. Through car bombings, assassinations, and kidnappings, ETA (translated as "Basque Fatherland and Freedom"), waged a violent campaign against the Spanish state (targeting politicians, judges, policemen and soldiers), resulting in numerous civilian casualties.

Following an attempted right-wing coup d'état in 1981 that tried to topple Spain's new, democratically elected Socialist government, key Spanish government officials secretly formed the GAL, an organization whose purpose was to attack ETA using similar methods of violence and terror. After a pivotal meeting with then-President Francois Mitterrand, Spain received the support it needed when France agreed to assist the GAL in their operations.

Through rare archival footage and interviews with government officials, prosecutors, journalists, and the families of victims, STATES OF TERROR conducts a methodical investigation into GAL. The film concludes with the extraordinary trials of high-ranking Spanish officials, which implicated everyone from Cabinet Ministers to the Prime Minister of Spain in a state-sanctioned campaign of terrorism.

As it documents the activities of the GAL, the film raises disturbing questions that many governments, including our own, must face. Should democratic governments sanction murder? Can we fight terror with terror?

"Explosive. More than a film, a real investigation."— Le Figaro

"A damning document."— L'Humanite

"A great film-document ... With the help of gripping testimonies and archives ... Mac Caig succeeds in unraveling the threads of a complex history."— Le Monde

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Arthur MacCaig
Production: Agat Films, La Sept Arte


The first definitive film treatment of the Basque-Spanish conflict, EUSKADI looks at the tumultuous history of a long running struggle which is far from its resolution.

Arthur MacCaig | 1984 | 97 minutes | Color