Nevenka: Breaking the Silence is a limited series directed by Maribel Sánchez-Maroto. The series consists of three episodes, each around half-an-hour long.
Nevenka Fernandez is a name that I had not come across before this documentary. However, the series is an eye-opening revelation into a strong woman’s life. It’s not easy to report sexual harassment, especially for women working under powerful men. However, Nevenka’s power and determination is absolutely praiseworthy and is a testament to her will-power.
However, that isn’t to say that what she went through is, in any way, easy or simple. Nevenka: Breaking the Silence, with its three short episodes, tries to bring forth the harrowing incidents that took place in Spain.
In the early 2000s, it was practically unknown for a woman to file a sexual harassment lawsuit against politicians. However, Fernandez dared to go up in arms against Ismael Alvarez, the mayor of Spanish town Ponferrada, while she was also in the council. What followed was a harrowing tale of harassment for months on end, a time when Fernandez was drained mentally and physically. On top of that, she was harassed and slut-shamed by the people around her, even during and after the trial.
Nevenka: Breaking the Silence follows every bit of what happened from Fernandez’s point of view. We see different people talking about the incidents and what happened, but the biggest point of view is Nevenka herself. The saddest thing is that not one person stood up for her, even when the truth came out. Hoards of people stood on the street with placards shouting their undying love for their mayor, women openly tell the camera that no one can harass them if they don’t want to – it’s disturbing, to say the least. All the women’s hatred, especially, is shocking.
However, what is more disturbing is how much of a fan-following Alvarez had, in spite of it being an open secret that he was a “womanizer”. Everyone knew who he was, atleast they had an idea about it. In spite of that, everyone blindly followed what he said and praised him loudly and boldly. It’s absolutely mortifying and shocking. However, standing in 2021, is it surprising though? Probably not.
Nevenka’s case is horrifying and empowering at the same time. At one point, Fernandez says, “I have dignity.” The documentary is absolute spine-chilling because it’s so straight forward. It doesn’t take the help of dramatized re-enactments, rather, it focuses mostly on Nevenka while she talks about everything while looking directly at the camera.
Nevenka: Breaking the Silence uses pictures and old news footage to bring the point across. Watching those footages will give you goosebumps because it’s things that we have seen over and over again – even now. Things really haven’t changed even now, and that’s what you’ll see through the documentary.
Summing up: Nevenka: Breaking the Silence
Nevenka: Breaking the Silence is a hard-hitting look at what women face in their day to day lives. It shows us how some men are incapable of taking no for an answer and how far women have to go to escape their abusers. However, what most of us are unable to do, Nevenka Fernandez did it 20 years ago – she stood up against her oppressor, fought against him, and eventually came out victorious in the end. It’s a show that is worth watching and will definitely give you various things to think about.
Nevenka: Breaking the Silence is streaming on Netflix.
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