The Harvard Film Archive to feature series of Patricio Guzman docs




About the filmmaker:
Few filmmakers have understood the tremendous potential of cinema to shape historical consciousness as perspicaciously and courageously as Chilean documentarian Patricio Guzmán (b. 1941). In his first major work, The Battle of Chile, Guzmán discovered what would become the urgent central subject of his filmmaking over the next forty years – the fleeting victory and tragic 1973 overthrow of Chilean President Salvador Allende, the world’s first democratically elected Socialist leader.  By keeping alive the images and memory of Allende’s tragically foreshortened rule, Guzmán offered The Battle of Chile as a vital aide-memoire and a stubbornly contradictory thorn in the side of the Pinochet dictatorship. The urtext of Guzmán’s prolific career, The Battle of Chile is also the first of his works to explore the documentary film as a vital form of collective memory that refuses the selective amnesia guiding “official“ histories and shaping the memory of its individual survivors. Important for more than simply its searing, unforgettable imagery of a nation being torn asunder, The Battle of Chile is equally distinguished by its structural and rhetorical complexities – and especially by its triptych form that returns repeatedly, each time from a different perspective, to the events that culminated with such terrible consequence on September 11, 1973. In subsequent major works such as Salvador Allende and his late masterpiece Chile, Obstinate Memory, Guzmán skillfully expands, and even problematizes, the idea of the documentary as a means to recover the past- and in particular the lost word of Allende’s brief reign and the years of repressive dictatorship which followed. Carefully balancing interviews, with victims and survivors of the coup d’état and repressive Pinochet regime, and charged visits to contested sites scorched by Chile’s violent past, Salvador Allende and Chile, Obstinate Memory are united by Guzmán’s fascination with the fragility of collective memory and with History’s tendency to erase as much as it remembers. With his latest film, Nostalgia for the Light, Guzmán’s restless probing of the past attains an even greater philosophical and poetic depth, driven now by a search for some sort of cosmic order able to provide a broader, more patient understanding of mankind’s legacy of imperious folly. The subject of History’s strange, unpredictable course is equally at stake in ambitious yet lesser known films such as A Town on the Edge and The Southern Cross in which Guzmán embraces radical historiographic approaches to explore the contradictory socio-cultural, and religious traditions interwoven across Latin America.

The Harvard Film Archive is proud to welcome Patricio Guzmán for a rare visit and opportunity to discuss his path-breaking career. We are also pleased to welcome Guzmán’s long-time collaborator, producer Renate Sachse, as well as the celebrated Latin American film historian, Jorge Ruffinelli, one of the foremost authorities on Guzmán’s cinema.

This event is the First Annual arts@DRCLAS-HFA Film Retrospective and is co-presented with the David Rockefeller Center for Latin American Studies (DRCLAS) and with the additional support of Harvard’s Department of Romance Languages and Literatures (RLL) and the Carr Center for Human Rights Policy. Special thanks to: Jonathan Miller and Lydia Bloom, Icarus Films; Renate Sachse; Brad Epps, RLL; Timothy McCarthy, Carr Center; Paola Ibarra and Marcela Ramos, DRCLAS.

Screening Schedule:
Salvador Allende
Friday February 11 at 7PM
Guzmán’s moving portrait of the Chilean leader retraces the path of his early years and the terrible end of his political career, speaking with surviving friends, family members and loyal followers in order to define the personality and political ideas that guided his revolutionary program. Combining archival photographs with stirring footage from contemporary newsreels and The Battle of Chile, Guzmán’s documentary balances Allende’s own words- including his last radio address recorded shortly before his death- with the memories of those he inspired, including Guzmán himself whose commentary reflects upon Allende’s profound influence upon his life and films. A deeply personal and poetic archaeology, Salvador Allende revisits sites and memories still resonant with Allende’s presence and colored by a palpable sadness and sense of loss.
Directed by Patricio Guzmán
Chile 2004, 35 mm, b/w and color, 100 min

Followed by

Island of Robinson Crusoe / Isla de Robinson Crusoe
Guzmán realized his childhood dream of visiting the island of Robinson Crusoe which, as it happens, is a Chilean territory, located far off the nation’s coast. While he searches for traces of Defoe’s hermit hero, Guzmán shares his discovery of the strange island and the eccentric community living there.
Directed by Patricio Guzmán
Chile 1999, video, color, 45 min

The Battle of Chile, Part 1: The Insurrection of the Bourgeoisie (La Batalla de Chile: La Insurrección de la Burguesía)
Saturday, February 12 at 7pm

The Battle of Chile began as a boldly spontaneous attempt to comprehensively document Allende’s truly revolutionary experiment in social justice in its formative stages. Using film stock provided by Chris Marker, a thirty-one year old Guzmán, fresh out of film school in Madrid, led a team of cameramen into the streets of Santiago and outlaying towns to capture the different sides forming staunchly for and increasingly against the visionary leader. The first part of Guzmán’s epic chronicle focuses not on Allende or his progressive government, but rather on the vehement middle class resistance to Allende’s program that would eventually empower and inspire the military uprising. Working with his talented cinematographers, Guzmán’s crafted a mesmerizing verité account of Allende’s fall that is energized by the many voices of Chilean citizens rendered vivid on film. Offering singular insight into the disintegration of Allende’s regime The Insurrection of the Bourgeoisie is also one of the most riveting documentary accounts of history in the making.
Directed by Patricio Guzmán
Chile 1975, digital video, b/w, 96 min

The Battle of Chile, Part 2: The Coup D’etat (La Batalla de Chile: El Golpe de Estado)
Saturday, February 12 at 9pm

The second part of The Battle of Chile begins with the Chilean military’s first attempted coup in June 1973 and tracks the steady deterioration of Allende’s position across the last months leading up to September 11. Focusing on Allende’s attempts to stave off the splintering of his party from within, The Coup D’état captures the frightening escalation of violence that began in the streets and climaxed in the fatal bombing of the Presidential palace by the CIA backed military. Especially chilling is transparency of the military maneuvers against the President-elect and the ways in which Allende’s sworn enemies, and eventually even his supporters, openly acknowledge that a coup d’état is inevitable. The resolution and bravery of Guzmán’s team was embodied in the figure of the cameraman Leonard Hendrickson, who filmed his own murder when he was brazenly shot by an Army soldier during the siege.
Directed by Patricio Guzmán
Chile 1975, digital video, b/w, 88 min

The Battle of Chile, Part 3: The Power of the People (La Batalla de Chile: El Poder Popular)
Sunday, February 13 at 7pm

Completed a year after the first and second parts, The Power of the People offers an important coda to Guzmán’s epic documentary by turning away from the forces who opposed Allende and instead examining the loose coalition of workers and citizens who attempted to save Allende’s visionary politics. A stirring testimony to the grass roots power of Allende’s visionary politics and its singular appeal to the working class, The Power of the People offers a fleeting, poignant glimpse into the Socialist dream that was cruelly shattered by the Pinochet dictatorship.
Directed by Patricio Guzmán
Chile 1978, digital video, b/w, 78 min

The Pinochet Case (El Caso Pinochet)
Monday, February 14 at 7pm

Guzmán immediately leapt into action just as soon as he heard news of Augosto Pinochet’s surprise arrest for human rights violations in October 1998 during an extended visit to London. Capturing the crowds of anti- and pro-Pinochet supporters who crowded the site of Pinochet’s house arrest, Guzmán also extensively features voices for and against the prosecution of Chilean dictator, speaking extensively to the Spanish judge Baltasar Garzón who masterminded the trial as well as Pinochet friends and supporters. At the center of the film are Guzmán’s moving encounters with victims of Pinochet’s worst crimes, those who suffered horrendous torture or the assassination of a loved one and who spoke out for the first time for the film and for the cause of the trial, reliving their nightmares. With subtlety and the greatest respect for the victims Guzmán films makes frighteningly clear the depth of darkness and suffering caused by the unchecked savagery of the Pincohet years.
Directed by Patricio Guzmán
France 2001, 35mm, color, 108 min. Spanish w/English subtitles

Director Patricio Guzmán in Person
Special Event Tickets $12
Chile, Obstinate Memory (Chile, La Memoria Obstinada)
Friday, February 18 at 7pm

One of Guzmán’s most powerful and important films, CHILE, OBSTINATE MEMORY chronicles the director’s return to his native land with a copy of THE BATTLE OF CHILE and the determination to understand exactly how Allende’s fall and legacy were being remembered by different generations of Chileans. Sharing his epic film with survivors of the coup d’état and its terrible aftermath, Guzmán awakens memories of the past and stirs one group towards a powerful act of defiant remembrance. The film builds to a devastating climax when Guzmán shows his film to a group of young students who are shocked and overwhelmed by their first encounter with their own history that had been denied for so long.
Directed by Patricio Guzmán
Chile 1997, digital video, color, 58 min

Followed by


A lyrical essay film, Madrid offers a spirited meditation on place and tradition that focuses upon the city where Guzmán first studied cinema and where he found sanctuary after fleeing Chile. The fascination with revealing gestures and objects seen in The Battle of Chile gives way to Madrid‘s poetic exploration of the particularly Spanish rhythm of the city, with Guzmán’s equally interested in intimate cafes conversations as the enigmatic shadows captured by his ever-curious camera.
Directed by Patricio Guzmán
Chile 2002, digital video, color, 41 min

Director Patricio Guzmán in Person with Jorge Ruffinelli
Special Event Tickets $12
Nostalgia for the Light (Nostalgia de la Luz)
Saturday, February 19 at 7pm

In order to return once more to the troubled history of the Pinochet dictatorship, Guzmán’s latest film travels to Chile’s remote Atacama Desert whose unusual conditions give the world’s largest telescopes privileged access to the stars and their cosmic secrets. One of the driest places on the planet the Atacama also, however, preserves almost anything buried in its sand- including ancient indigenous remains and, more recently, the fragments of victims’ bodies scattered there by Pinochet’s death squads. A work of rare poetry and emotional power, Nostalgia for the Light carefully interweaves the profoundly insightful musings of astonomers and archaelogists who have made the desert their home with the testimony of a resolute group of widows who wander the desert, fueled by the hope of finding even a fragment of an executed loved one’s remains. In this place where the pas t- be it the ancient world, the historic past or the unfathomable distance of the galaxies – all seem incredibly alive and close, Guzmán crafts a brilliant meditation on the strange tenacity and paradoxical fragility of memory and history.
Directed by Patricio Guzmán
France/Germany/Chile 2010, 35mm, color, 90 min.  ///??? With English subtitles

The Southern Cross (El Cruz del Sur)
Featuring an introduction by Jorge Ruffinelli
Sunday, February 20 at 7pm

One of the least known of Guzmán’s major works, The Southern Cross is a visually dazzling exploration of religion and history in Latin America that explores the constant intermingling of indigenous and foreign cultures that has been a constant since the arrival of the Conquistadors. Leaping from reenactments of the Spaniards first encounters with the Mayan to trace the patterns of intersecting pagan and Church traditions in present day Peru, Guatemala and throughout Latin America, Guzmán’s film also examines the ways that religion has defined politics and class structure throughout the region. Ultimately The Southern Cross is concerned with the paradoxical movement of history, which seems to be pulled backwards, anchored by the past, and at the same time propelled forward into the unknown.
Directed by Patricio Guzmán
Argentina 1992, digital video, color, 75 min. Spanish with English subtitles

A Village Fading Away (Pueblo en Vilo)
Monday, February 21 at 7pm

Rarely seen today, A Village Fading Away is a fascinating exploration of the work of celebrated Mexican historian Luis González y González, a pioneering figure in the field of “Microhistory”, a mode of historical inquiry that examines the smallest constitutive units of a place or time- a village, or farmer- as a way to understand a larger period. Inspired by the remote small Michoacán town of San José de Gracia, where he was born and raised, González set out to test his theory that the most particular and local offers a revealing microcosm of larger and otherwise invisible socio-cultural and historical forces at work. Using González himself as guide, Guzmán traces the deep patterns of tradition and shared memory that define the small town, with the voices of the town elders drawing the film back into a distant past that seems incredibly alive.
Directed by Patricio Guzmán
Chile 1995, digital video, color, 52 min