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FILM REVIEW Santiago Rising

Excellent documentary on the street demonstrations against neoliberal authoritarianism and for a new constitution in Chile

FOR many years, Chile after Pinochet resembled Spain after Franco: the left had been brutally annihilated and any sign of opposition successfully repressed.

Most citizens, it seemed, just wanted to get on with their lives after the nightmare of the past and forget politics.

So it was immensely surprising and uplifting to witness the sudden eruption in 2019 of a widespread protest movement throughout Chile against continued authoritarianism and neoliberal policies and the demand for a new national constitution to replace the one imposed on the nation by Pinochet.

The documentary Santiago Rising from Alborada Films embodies the spirit of that movement.

Film-maker Nick MacWilliam, who lived in Chile for four years, captures the euphoria, that sense of the people regaining power in the way they had in 1970 when socialist Salvador Allende became president.

The 2019 protests, triggered by students protesting at the rise of ticket prices for the underground in Santiago, ignited countrywide street protests at the general rise in the cost of living, rabid privatisation and the crass inequality in the country.

Santiago Rising takes place on the streets of the Chilean capital as massive protests over economic inequality engulfed the country.

MacWilliam was able to film during the weeks after protests began and the film engages with the social movements, protesters and ordinary people in their struggle for equality and human rights.

The protests were characterised by good humour, a carnival-like spirit and joyful solidarity, but they were met with the full force of the country’s brutal security forces.

And in the confrontations several people were killed and many injured and arrested.

The film emphasises the prominent role of music and art in fuelling and giving expression to this political dissent.

It charts the build-up to the historic vote in October last year that saw Chileans vote in favour of for a new democratic constitution to address the country’s malaise.

Although the odds are stacked against them, Chileans are finding strength in a new-found unity as they fight to overcome Pinochet’s enduring legacy.

The online premiere of the film is on Thursday January 14 at 6.30pm, followed by a Q&A with the director.

Tickets are available at


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