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Film of the Week People power v Pinochet’s poisoned legacy

MARIA DUARTE is stirred by a documentary account of the Estallido Social, or social outburst, that took place in the past four years in Chile

My Imaginary Country (15)
Directed by Patricio Guzman

★★★★

ACCLAIMED documentary film-maker Patricio Guzman returns again to his native Chile to explore the driving force of women in the recent Chilean revolution in his new thought-provoking film.

It examines how in October 2019 a 30-peso rise in tube prices was the catalyst to social protests erupting in the country following years of corruption, inequality and the government’s inability to dismantle Pinochet’s economic structures and those of his dictatorship.

The film features footage of students jumping ticket barriers en masse, chanting “fare dodging is another way of fighting.” When the violence extended to local banks and stores, involving looting and over one and a half million people demonstrating in the streets of Santiago for more democracy, a more dignified life, better education, a better health system and a new constitution, President Sebastian Pinera declared a state of emergency announcing “we are at war.”

Guzman reflects on how the government’s use of the military to solve a social conflict was reminiscent of the Pinochet regime.

There are powerful black and white images as well as film footage of protesters being blasted with water cannon and attacked by soldiers and police.

Through on the ground footage, reportage and interviews with a whole host of women from different spheres ranging from medics, journalists and political scientists to activist leaders and ordinary mothers and protesters, Guzman shows the crucial role women have played in the democratic movement to demand equality and justice, to rewrite the constitution and implement reforms.

The most empowering sight in the film is that of hundreds of female demonstrators, young and old, all blindfolded, and all singing the protest song “The Rapist is You” written by the Tesis Collective (who are also interviewed in the documentary) which turned into a feminist anthem denouncing patriarchy and violence and abuse against women.

This is a very highly charged and emotional documentary which provides a snapshot of people power and what it can achieve, and it documents the social revolution that Guzman had been waiting to witness since his student days in 1973.

Out in cinemas today

 

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