SANFIC: Andrés Lubert Gets Personal About His Chilean Dictatorship-Era Doc, ‘The Color of the Chameleon’

“For me, my father is like a symbol of resistance against the machinery of the dictatorship” - Lubert says

SANTIAGO DE CHILE –Today Jorge Lubert is a camera-man and journalist who has been to some of the most dangerous places in the world to cover human rights issues. It’s not the career path that Pinochet’s fascist regime had in mind when they kidnapped, tortured, and brainwashed him when he was only 21 years old.

Directed by Jorge’s son Andres Lubert, “The Color of the Chameleon,” is a documentary retelling of Jorge’s life as a young adult under Pinochet, that government’s attempts to transform a civilian into a secret service agent, his eventual escape to cold war Berlin, and how his previously untold story kept him at a distance from everyone in his life, particularly Andres. It unfolds like a puzzle whose pieces, when finally assembled, paint a picture of a father’s love for his son.

The film is co-produced by Belgium based indie producer Off World and, Chile’s Blume Producciones. International distribution is being handled by German-Spanish company 3Box media, with Chilean domestic distribution by Miradoc.

Andres Lubert has been making documentaries focusing on human rights and social issues for more than a decade, all the while keeping “The Color of the Chameleon” on the back-burner. He recently talked about the film and expanded on his father’s story with Variety.

This is a project that clearly started many many years ago for you, the desire to learn about your father. When did you decide that it was something you should document on film and share with the public?

In 2004, I went to Chile to interview family members and people involved in human rights to get a picture of who my father was. My uncle was the only person who knew the whole story and when I was 22 he entrusted me with a 40 page, first-person testimony of my father telling what happened to him in Chile, the testimony we eventually used in the film. So, at 22 I had access to this very detailed material and it was very difficult to cope with and nobody knew, not even my father.

For 10 years I tried to talk with my father about his past, but he couldn’t say a single word. Finally he agreed to talk on film.

Have you had a chance to interact with other people who had stories similar to your fathers?

I have never heard of similar cases, and the human rights specialists here in Chile have said the same. Normally exiled people were revolutionaries or those fighting against a dictatorship, but my father was just a young person, only 20, who wanted to work and enjoy life. He wasn’t interested in politics or military, he was chosen for this experiment because he had specific qualities the military was looking to exploit.

How important was it for you to leave the cameras rolling all the time? It certainly wouldn’t have been the same film without the “off-camera” shots.

When we started filming I quickly realized that a lot of things would happen when my father was off-guard. When he knew I was filming, it was very difficult to get into his head. The most spontaneous and natural things happened when we were not filming. Sometime he would even start to direct scenes himself. The film is often quite heavy for the viewer, and so this more off-guard shooting also shows the relationship between my father and me, and that we have a real dialogue.

You had a voice actor read your fathers testimonies, can you talk about that decision?

I think the first idea was to have my father read the statements but I very quickly realized that would have been too confusing because you would hear his voice all the time in interviews and talking, but also the voice-over of him. It would have been confusing to the viewer. We chose an actor the same age he was at the time to show this young innocent voice of my father in first-person when everything happened to him.

Were there any logistical difficulties in making this film? Locations that people didn’t want you filming or files that you couldn’t get access to?

We wanted to go to the military bases so my father could experience them again, to trigger his memories. We submitted official applications to the military, but the answer was that we couldn’t film about anything that happened between ’73-’90. So, in some cases we just entered, and in others we never got access.

As for the military files, in Chile there is a law called Chile transparencia, which makes a lot of government documents public. I got access to a lot of military documents to support the story that my father was telling.

With good reason, your dad clearly still has deeply rooted fears of what could happen to him today. Do you share those fears?

I’m from a generation that didn’t live through the dictatorship, and I was born outside of Chile. My father has strong reactions on some things because he lived it, but I didn’t, so I don’t have the same fears as him.

My father never showed fear as a journalist, when he witnessed some of the worst things in the world as a cameraman in conflict zones. But, when we got back to Chile and he had to talk about the people who tortured him and did these terrible things to him he was in a state of panic. It was very strong to see this, my father with fear of these people and what they could still do today.

What is your relationship with your father like now compared to before?

The relationship is very different than before. We couldn’t have real dialogue about emotions or talk like friends, but today we share more, we can have a drink. Making the film brought us a lot closer and I am very happy for that. It was an incredible experience to make this film with my father and for him to trust me to make something good. I think my father is very brave to expose himself in the way he did. I admire him for it.

More Film

  • Amazon Developing Original Series Based on

    Amazon Studios Buys 'Selah and the Spades,' Will Develop Original Series (EXCLUSIVE)

    Amazon Studios has acquired worldwide rights to “Selah and the Spades,” a gripping look at a prep school drug dealer, Variety has learned. The film marks the feature debut of writer and director Tayarisha Poe and had its world premiere at this year’s Sundance Film Festival where it was a favorite with critics. Amazon has [...]

  • The Ultimate Guide to 2019 Comic-Con

    The Ultimate Guide to 2019 Comic-Con Parties and Activations

    Hollywood is heading down the California coast to San Diego because It’s time for 2019 Comic-Con International. The annual cosplay celebration officially kicks off tomorrow, July 18, with a preview happening tonight. Here, Variety gives you a guide to this year’s parties and activations. Make sure to check back for updates. Wednesday, July 17Amazon Prime [...]

  • The Wound African Cinema Berlin Film

    Finance Forum Brings African WIP Into Focus at Durban FilmMart

    The 10th edition of the Durban FilmMart, which unspools parallel to the 40th Durban Intl. Film Festival, will feature 10 fiction and 10 documentary works-in-progress taking part in its annual Finance Forum. The leading co-production market on the continent, the Forum brings together producers, distributors, sales agents, broadcasters, funding bodies, and other industry players from across the [...]

  • The Lion King

    'The Lion King' Looks to Roar Life Into Domestic Box Office

    Hollywood just can’t wait for “The Lion King” to hit theaters. That’s because Disney’s highly anticipated remake is expected to draw herds of moviegoers at a time when ticket sales are seriously struggling. Box office watchers predict that the studio’s grand return to the Pride Lands could become one of this year’s biggest hits. “The [...]

  • Sarah Wright Takes Charge of Sky

    Sarah Wright Takes Charge of Sky Cinema After Management Shuffle

    Sarah Wright, Sky’s top acquisitions exec, will take on responsibility for Sky Cinema after a management shuffle at the pay-TV giant. Wright fills a role vacated by Ian Lewis, who recently left Sky after 20 years. He was one of several Sky staffers to leave after its takeover by Comcast. As director of Sky Cinema [...]

  • Jodi Long Running for SAG-AFTRA Secretary-Treasurer

    Jodi Long Running for SAG-AFTRA Secretary-Treasurer on Matthew Modine Slate

    Veteran actress and union activist Jodi Long is running for secretary-treasurer of SAG-AFTRA as a member of Matthew Modine’s progressive Membership First slate. She is facing Camryn Manheim, who announced her candidacy on July 9 as part of the Unite for Strength slate for the re-election of union president Gabrielle Carteris. Unite for Strength and United [...]

  • Toni Monty

    Durban FilmMart Head Toni Monty: ‘Africa Has Its Own Story to Tell’

    The Durban Film Festival’s industry program, the Durban FilmMart, celebrates its 10th anniversary as the leading confab for filmmakers from across the continent, with a lively program of panel discussions, seminars and workshops unspooling from July 19-22 in this sunny seaside city. In addition, 10 fiction and 10 documentary works-in-progress have been selected for the DFM’s [...]

More From Our Brands

Access exclusive content