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A Promise to the Dead: The Exile Journey of Ariel Dorfman

Oscar's Documentary Shortlist

COUNTRY: Canada

DIRECTOR: Peter Raymont

ABOUT THE FILMMAKER: Raymont has produced and directed more than 100 films and series, including the 2007 Emmy- and Sundance-winning “Shake Hands With the Devil: The Journey of Romeo Dallaire.” Raymont is also exec producer of “The Border,” a series premiering on the CBC in January.

FINANCING: The film cost approximately $500,000 and was funded through TV presales and grants by Bravo, Knowledge Network, SCN, the Biography Channel, Tele-Quebec, National Geographic, SBS, Svierges TV, the Humanist Channel, BBC Four, ITVS, the Canadian Television Fund and Sundance Documentary Fund.

THEME: Raymont follows peripatetic writer Ariel Dorfman as he makes peace with his past, specifically his years as an Allende supporter who fled Chile following Pinochet’s coup d’etat.

VARIETY REVIEW SAYS: n/a

DISTRIBUTION STATUS: Screened at 14 major film festivals, plus an additional 40 screenings during the IDA circuit. Pic’s international distributor is Films Transit.

ON THE MAKING OF THE FILM: “When we were planning the trip to Chile,” says Raymont, “Ariel felt he needed a specific mission beyond just looking up old friends and fellow poets and writers. He decided to search for a photograph he had seen but had lost of himself during the Allende revolution. So we filmed several scenes of Ariel looking for this elusive photo. He never found it. In the editing room, we realized there were so many more powerful scenes we had shot and so many more important themes and threads to weave into the final tapestry of the documentary that we never used any of the footage of Ariel searching for the photo.”

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