“My imaginary country”, the first flame

My imaginary country ***

by Patricio Guzman

Chilean documentary, 1 h 23

Patricio Guzman’s imaginary country is the one he dreamed of more than forty years ago, when, as a young filmmaker, he filmed the beginnings of Salvador Allende’s socialist experiment. Tremendous hope had risen in the population, shattered by General Pinochet’s coup of September 11, 1973.

The director, gone into exile, had drawn a trilogy entitled The Battle of Chile, produced in collaboration with Chris Marker, and had laid the foundations of his documentary work. The filmmaker then gave him advice: “If you want to film a fire, you have to be where the first flame appears. »

Also when the anger of the Chilean people awoke in October 2019, the filmmaker, if he was not there at the very beginning, wanted to be the committed and sometimes incredulous witness of this new hope for a democratic renewal. He filmed this generation ” without fear “ who fights step by step against a police force with violent methods inherited from Pinochet, “without leader or ideology”and whose face is essentially feminine.

It is exclusively women who testify in this film, as if the fight against patriarchal oppression constituted the other side of that led against the corrupt elites of this country, too often white and male.

From the streets to the constituent assembly

“And if it was a second Chilean revolution? », wonders with emotion the filmmaker in voiceover, hardly daring to believe in what is unfolding before his eyes. The national stadium where he was taken prisoner at the time of the coup d’état has been transformed into a polling station, where the population must approve the establishment of a constituent assembly intended to definitively turn the Pinochet page. He follows the whole process, from the street to the polls, which will lead to the unexpected election of Gabriel Boric against the far-right candidate.

The stones, the only weapons of the demonstrators, are then transformed into the foundations of a new Chile which, he hopes, “will open the windows wide and let the air circulate”. Patricio Guzman (The Cordillera of Dreams, The Mother-of-Pearl Button) signs a very beautiful documentary, with neat images and soundtrack, which is worth as much by the testimony of a history in motion as by the resonances that it makes vibrate in the filmmaker, between past and present.

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