By Annisa Kau
Broadcast & Distribution Coordinator, ITVS
ITVS’s Annisa Kau caught up with Andes Plane Crash Survivors Nando Parrado, Jose Luis Inciarte, and Adolfo Strauch to discuss their documentary on the 40th anniversary of the crash. Stranded will air on Sunday, July 8 on Global Voices on the World Channel (check listings).
On Friday, October 13, in 1972, charter flight 571 took off from Montevideo, Uruguay’s capital city, carrying a boisterous team of wealthy college athletes to a rugby match in Chile. But what was supposed to be a first taste of freedom away from home turned out to be a much scarier and life-altering journey.
Stranded: The Andes Plane Crash Survivors is the tale of flight 571, which never made it to Chile. Instead, the plane crash-landed in a desolate glacial valley, high in the Andean cordillera — a chain of rugged, snow-covered peaks stretching from Bogata, Colombia to Punta Arenas, Chile. Fifteen people died, including the pilot. Five were badly wounded. But — miracle of miracles — 29 lived.
Three decades after the crash, the 16 survivors, interviewed in the film, revive long-buried emotions and intimate memories. They take viewers, moment by agonizing moment, through their suffering, as hope turns into despair and as hours stretch into days and weeks. Stranded is a parable of human survival and extreme measures as a group of young athletes break society’s greatest taboo in order to survive after a plane crash in the mountains.
First, can you give us an update with where you are now and what you’re doing these days?
NANDO PARRADO: I live in Montevideo, Uruguay. I am married, have two daughters, Veronica and Cecilia, and one granddaughter Alexia. I have been a TV producer for the last 30 years, and am also CEO of the family hardware company and owner of a cable TV company. I am also ranked as one of the top 5 speakers in the world and only give 12 conferences a year.
JOSE LUIS INCIARTE: I’m also living at Montevideo, Uruguay, and I’m studying how to paint, I also work in Fundacion Viven and travel worldwide giving lectures about the Andes ordeal as fundraising.
ADOLFO STRAUCH: I am currently handling the administrating of farming establishments in the center of Uruguay. I try to adapt company needs to personal times.
Being a subject retelling a very personal and significant incident in your life, what was your experience like in the making of this documentary?
JOSE LUIS INCIARTE: The experience was very gratifying, because director Gonzalo Arijon is from Uruguay and we all understood each other very well.
ADOLFO STRAUCH: While making the documentary, it was very important that Gonzalo Arijon climbed the mountain with one of the survivors. This gave him more knowledge so he could get more meaningful information.
Personally, it was good to re-live what happened 30 years ago. Experiences that are lived with prosperity help me look at things with a different perspective. Even now, I don’t fully understand why people are interested in this particular story.
The film has been out for a few years now. Has there been any major impact on you, both short-term or long-term, that has been influenced by the release of this film?
ADOLFO STRAUCH: I am thankful that we made this film because it makes history a little more objective; it is all of us telling it and there is impartiality from one person outside of the group. The one-sided conferences amongst survivors are isolated, they are subjective and sometimes they steer away from what really happened up there.
4. Since this story has been fairly public for the last 40 years, has the press coverage of this influenced you in a positive or negative way?
NANDO PARRADO: I would say positive.
JOSE LUIS INCIARTE: Always in a positive way.
ADOLFO STRAUCH: I think that the press tries to sell instead of delving into something that could have been a wonderful human experience.
There are moments that are lived with high intensity, like when we had to decide to eat the bodies or when there was a big change within us after a health disaster, how does this happen and why? These are things that look uninteresting but in them you find the richest experience of all of this.
A portion of this interview was translated by María León.
Stranded will broadcast as part of the Global Voices series on the WORLD Channel, Sunday, July 8 at 10 p.m. (check local listings). Starting Monday, July 9, the documentary will be available to view in entirety online via PBS Video (for a limited time only).