Patricio Guzmán: The Cordillera of Dreams

He speaks slowly. With a calm voice. The totally mastered personal text of Patricio Guzmán takes the viewer back to the Chile that he left after the coup d’état in 1973. All his films, he mentions in this third part of a trilogy (Nostalgia for the Light and The Pearl Button are the two first) deals with his beloved country. This time with the „Cordillera de los Andes” as the metaphoric background – with stunningly beautiful images of the mountains, the rocks with or without snow, a wall as he says, a mystery as one of his interviewes says, where stories are hidden; history, the traumatic past of a country that is still suffering from the dictatorship of Pinochet.


“I’m not a sociologist. Neither am I a politician. I make films that are metaphorical and poetic; I interpret reality through my own personal way of looking”… Guzman has said in connection with the trilogy. A documentary essayist as was Chris Marker, who helped Guzman to get negative material to continue filming what became “The Battle of Chile” (Below a link for the cinephiles, an article where Guzman tells about his relationship to Marker, quite a story about the generosity of the latter!).

Back to the film and the Cordillera that takes up 80% of Chile, from North to South. The Cordillera that turns its back to Santiago, the city where the 79 year old director was born. He takes us to the house where he was born, the facade is intact, the rest is a ruin. And he takes us to the house, where he and his colleagues met in the morning before they went to the streets to film for “The Battle of Chile”.

He remembers his days in the stadium, where Chile, some days before it became the place, where political opponents were taken by Pinochet and his thugs before thousands of them disappeared, had played football against Italy. And he goes to the empty skyscraper, where Pinochet and his people implemented the neoliberal economy – Milton Friedman was his advisor – that still reigns the country. The Cordillera is now mostly on foreign hands!

Guzmán talks to sculptors, a volcanologist who have lovely descriptions of their relationship to the Codillera as well as persons who analyses the political and economical situation of Chile today. But first and foremost he visits Pablo Salas, journalist and documentarian.

He stayed, I fled. He filmed (from the beginning of the 1980es) here, I made my films from a distance, Guzmán says with his mournful voice. Salas shows clips from his video library, demonstrations, brutality, water canons, tear gas, arrests, clubs hitting the demonstrators. But there was so much that was not filmed, says Salas referring to the concentration camps, the torture chambers etc.

It is a divided country, says Salas, so many live from the copper. Anyhow, the two – Salas and Guzmán – have hopes for the future, at least film-wise, «there are so many young film directors who document and interpret what is happening». Guzmán ends his film wishing that Chile could come back to its (his) childhood and joy. 

Chile, 2019, 86 mins. – more about Guzmán on this site.

And there are several masterclasses with Patricio Guzmán, just google. (a vimeo, one and a half hour with Pablo Salas)

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Tue Steen Müller
Tue Steen Müller

Müller, Tue Steen
Documentary Consultant and Critic, DENMARK

Worked with documentary films for more than 20 years at the Danish Film Board, as press officer, festival representative and film consultant/commissioner. Co-founder of Balticum Film and TV Festival, Filmkontakt Nord, Documentary of the EU and EDN (European Documentary Network).
Awards: 2004 the Danish Roos Prize for his contribution to the Danish and European documentary culture. 2006 an award for promoting Portuguese documentaries. 2014 he received the EDN Award “for an outstanding contribution to the development of the European documentary culture”. 2016 The Cross of the Knight of the Order for Merits to Lithuania. 2019 a Big Stamp at the 15th edition of ZagrebDox. 2021 receipt of the highest state decoration, Order of the Three Stars, Fourth Class, for the significant contribution to the development and promotion of Latvian documentary cinema outside Latvia. In 2022 he received an honorary award at DocsBarcelona’s 25th edition having served as organizer and programmer since the start of the festival.
From 1996 until 2005 he was the first director of EDN (European Documentary Network). From 2006 a freelance consultant and teacher in workshops like Ex Oriente, DocsBarcelona, Archidoc, Documentary Campus, Storydoc, Baltic Sea Forum, Black Sea DocStories, Caucadoc, CinéDOC Tbilisi, Docudays Kiev, Dealing With the Past Sarajevo FF as well as programme consultant for the festivals Magnificent7 in Belgrade, DOCSBarcelona, Verzio Budapest, Message2Man in St. Petersburg and DOKLeipzig. Teaches at the Zelig Documentary School in Bolzano Italy.

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