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Third finalist 2019

Santi Donaire

Children of Oblivion


According to a United Nations Human Rights report, Spain is one of the countries with the highest number of disappeared persons in the world. More than 115,000 people killed not only during the Civil War between 1936 and 1939 but also during the postwar repression under Franco between 1939 and 1975 are scattered over thousands of mass graves across Spain’s entire geography.

Eighty years after the armed conflict and forty after the death of dictator Francisco Franco, the victims and their descendants gather today in associations and groups pursuing truth, justice and reparation within the context of the international struggle for human rights.

A great example is the cemetery in Paterna, a town in the province of Valencia where more than 2,300 people were shot during the Franco regime and remain buried in more that 100 different mass graves. Since 2017 when the opening of a dozen of these graves was begun, family members of different generations have come together to locate, exhume and identify their killed relatives.

The long dictatorship caused historical trauma among the people of Spain. Fear, exile, repression, oblivion, torture, rape, and imprisonment all inflicted a cross-cutting wound that continues to mark political, social and cultural behavior and identity in our society.


Santi Donaire was born in Jaén, Spain (1988). He graduated in journalism and audiovisual communication from Madrid’s Universidad Rey Juan Carlos and broadened his training in photography at the now defunct Blankpaper school.

He has worked as a freelance photographer for several different media and international news agencies in countries like Venezuela or Greece. For the last four years, he has concentrated on longterm projects, most of which hinge around memory and the historical trauma that envelops society in Spain. His work focuses on photography and documentary cinema. He is a founding member of the nervio group, an audio-visual producer.

He has been awarded prizes such as the Picture Of The Year International and participated in the Rey de España de Periodismo (King of Spain Journalism) Award in 2018.