×

IDFA Guest of Honor Patricio Guzman on Chilean Soul and Mountains

Renowned Chilean documentary filmmaker Patricio Guzmán (“The Battle of Chile,” “The Pearl Button”) has returned to the country to shoot “The Cordillera of Dreams,” 46 years after he was exiled under Augusto Pinochet’s regime of terror. The documentary feature screens at IDFA, where Guzmán is a Guest of Honor. He will present a selection of 10 films at the festival that defined him as a filmmaker.

“The Cordillera of Dreams” is produced by Guzmán’s 20-year production partner Renate Sachse of France’s Atacama Productions. It’s co-produced by Arte and Sampek Productions in France, and Market Chile in his home country. It is being sold by Pyramide International.

“The Cordillera” completes a trilogy which started with “Nostalgia for the Light” – about Chile’s Atacama Desert – and “The Pearl Button” – about Patagonia.

Through this allegorical trilogy of geographical elements (desert, water, mountains), Guzmán draws a personal portrait of Chile psyche, Chilean people and the ghosts of their history.

Narrated by Guzmán himself, the voiceover finishes the film: “My wish is for Chile to recuperate its childhood and joy.”

Popular on Variety

Is the main character, the Andean cordillera (mountain range), a metaphor for the Chilean soul?

Guzmán: It’s an important wall. You can’t escape it anywhere. Not in Santiago nor any part of the country. I think this wall contributes to the loneliness, the depression, the confinement that Chileans live with — and have always lived with, even before Pinochet. There’s a way of being in Chile that is conditioned by this enormous, endless wall. Chile is a closed-off country, a narrow valley, and that has shaped our way of being, which is completely different from that of the Argentinians. Ours is a country twisted towards sadness.

It’s a portrait which is sad but tranquil…

Guzmán: When I contemplate reality, I have always done so very calmly.

But this has nothing to do with the convulsive rhythm of “The Battle of Chile.”

Guzmán: There the action was intense, incessant, the moment of greatest turmoil ever, a devastating explosion.

What capacity does film have to examine the past or to inspire optimism for the future?

Guzmán: In practice, little actually. My films are watched in France by 150,000 or 200,000 people; in Chile 9,000. And that’s with “good” distribution. The cinemas are in the hands of U.S. companies with action movies, genre pieces. But a documentary about Chile? People turn away. The thirst for documentary from Allende’s era has been destroyed. In Pinochet’s time, people fought to give testimony of their reality and watched documentaries however they could, in home videos for example.

Producer Renate Sasche: There’s hope in the new generations. There is a desire to break away, to look for something further than neoliberal, conformist values.

There is a remarkable generation of Chilean women doc-makers — Bettina Perut, Marcela Said, Maite Alberdi… Patricio, you are the chairman of the Santiago International Documentary Film Festival (FIDOCS), which is boosting Chilean docs abroad…

Guzmán: Yes, there are many young doc-makers now. Carmen Luz Parot is another one. In fact, there’s interest in offering an alternative vision to what the broadcasters, newspapers, and media are providing. There’s a lot of censorship. On the other hand, however, documentary is very free in Chile. And the state offers aid, in small amounts, but aid nonetheless.

What does “The Cordillera of Dreams” add to your previous films? What distinguishes it from them?

Guzmán: I think this film returns to the simple and avoids the baroque. There’s a key element, the mountain range, and little else. It’s a film about essence of the soul. Here there’s more of my voice than in the others, and most likely in the next there will be even more. There’s an evolution, reaching continually towards what you have inside you as a creator and as a person, and leaving a little aside. There’s a transition towards a more subjective territory.

And after this trilogy?

Guzmán: I haven’t decided anything yet. Renata and I are working together on a new script, but as you know, the documentary is something you discover as you create it. I want to go back to Chile and insist on the beach, the sea, see where we end up.

More Film

  • Uncut Gems

    Listen: Adam Sandler Wore $400,000 Worth of Diamonds and Gold in 'Uncut Gems'

    Adam Sandler may not have received a Golden Globe or SAG Awards nomination for his work in “Uncut Gems,” but that doesn’t mean he doesn’t have a shot at the Oscars. It will be a tough road to get there, but despite some snubs, the National Board of Review named Sandler the year’s best actor [...]

  • Chinonye Chukwu Clemency

    Chinonye Chukwu on Golden Globes of Female Directors Shutout

    “Clemency” writer-director Chinonye Chukwu is weighing in on the HFPA’s failure to nominated a female director for the 2020 Golden Globes. “It’s part of the systemic oppressions that we’re all apart of and that’s internalized in many,” Chukwu told Variety in response to Monday morning’s announcement. “We need to get people in positions of power who [...]

  • Brad Pitt Dede Gardner Jeremy Kleiner

    Brad Pitt, Dede Gardner, Jeremy Kleiner to Receive Producers Guild Honor

    The Producers Guild of America will honor Brad Pitt, Dede Gardner and Jeremy Kleiner of Plan B with the David O. Selznick Achievement Award. They will accept the honor at the 31st Annual Producers Guild Awards on Jan. 18 at the Hollywood Palladium in Los Angeles. Previous recipients include Steven Spielberg, Barbara Broccoli, Saul Zaentz, [...]

  • Little Women BTS

    Golden Globes' Snub of Women Directors Has Depressing Implications (Column)

    It was a schizophrenic, bad news, good news kind of week for women in Hollywood. To quote Natalie Portman at the 2018 Golden Globe Awards ceremony, “And here are all the male nominees.” Yep, once again, the Hollywood Foreign Press Assn. failed to nominate any female directors, as we disappointingly learned when the contenders for [...]

  • Matteo Garrone's Pinocchio

    Roberto Benigni, Matteo Garrone Unveil New Live-Action 'Pinocchio' in Rome

    Italian director Matteo Garrone unveiled his live-action version of “Pinocchio” in Rome on Thursday together with Oscar-winner Roberto Benigni, who plays Mastro Geppetto, and other key cast members ahead of the hotly anticipated film’s holiday release in Italy. Garrone, known for dark arthouse titles such as “Gomorrah” and Cannes title “Dogman,” made it clear that [...]

  • Participant, Magnolia Pictures Buy 'John Lewis:

    Magnolia Pictures, Participant Buy 'John Lewis: Good Trouble' (EXCLUSIVE)

    Participant and Magnolia Pictures have acquired North American rights to “John Lewis: Good Trouble,” a look at the life and career of the civil rights activist and congressional leader. The film was executive produced and financed by CNN Films, AGC Studios and Time Studios. Magnolia is planning to release the film in the spring of [...]

  • Star Wars Maryann Brandon JJ Abrams

    How Could J.J. Abrams Follow 'Star Wars'? 'I'd Love to Direct a Play'

    When “Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker” debuts on Dec. 20, it will, of course, mark the official close to the nine-film Skywalker Saga, one of the most successful franchises in movie history, grossing more than $7.7 billion worldwide to date (not including spinoff films “Rogue One” and “Solo”). “The Rise of Skywalker” also marks [...]

More From Our Brands

Access exclusive content