×

Documentarian Patricio Guzman On Chilean Soul And Mountains

CANNES — 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 feature has received a special screening at the Cannes Film Festival.

Sold by Paris’ Pyramide International, “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.

“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.”

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 or 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?

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?

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

  • Myst Computer Game

    'Myst' Film and TV Rights Sell to Village Roadshow

    “Myst,” the influential video game that helped usher in the CD-ROM era, may inspire an ambitious multi-platform film and television universe. Village Roadshow Entertainment Group, the Australian-American co-producer and co-financier of the “Matrix” and “Sherlock Holmes” franchises, has acquired the rights to the first-person graphic adventure. For those born post-90s, “Myst” was wildly popular and [...]

  • ‘Half-Sister’ Director Damjan Kozole on Compassion,

    ‘Half-Sister’ Director Damjan Kozole on Compassion, Learning From the Past

    Two estranged half-siblings from a small coastal town in Slovenia spend the better part of their young lives ignoring each other’s existence. But when circumstances force them to move into the same cramped apartment, they have no choice but to come to terms with the past that binds them, while trying to decide how to [...]

  • The Traitor

    MMC Studios, One of Germany's Biggest Production Facilities, Changes Hands

    Germany’s MMC Studios, which has hosted such recent international productions as Joseph Gordon-Levitt thriller “7500” and Marco Bellocchio’s Cannes competition film “The Traitor,” is changing hands. Frankfurt-based investment company Novum Capital has acquired the facility in Cologne, one of Germany’s biggest film and TV studios, from Luxembourg private equity fund Lenbach Equity Opportunities I. The [...]

  • Box Office: 'Annabelle Comes Home' Kicks

    Box Office: 'Annabelle Comes Home' Kicks Off Tuesday With Solid $3.5 Million

    Warner Bros. and New Line’s “Annabelle Comes Home” collected a strong $3.5 million in Tuesday night previews. The supernatural thriller is expected to earn $30 million over its first five days in theaters. “Annabelle Comes Home” is the third “Annabelle” movie and seventh entry in the Conjuring franchise. Preview ticket sales are in line with [...]

  • Naomi Watts Thriller 'The Wolf Hour'

    Naomi Watts Thriller 'The Wolf Hour' Picked Up for U.S. by Brainstorm Media

    “The Wolf Hour,” a psychological thriller starring Naomi Watts and Jennifer Ehle, has been picked up for North America by Brainstorm Media. HanWay Films has also closed sales for a host of European and Asian territories. Directed by Alistair Banks Griffin, “The Wolf Hour” features Oscar-nominated Watts as June, a former countercultural celebrity who lives [...]

  • A Star Is Born

    'A Star Is Born' Soundtrack Surpasses Global Sales of 6 Million

    Lady Gaga and Bradley Cooper’s onscreen chemistry continues to be felt on the official soundtrack to “A Star is Born,” which just surpassed 6 million albums sold globally and has been certified double platinum in the U.S. Released by Interscope Records in 2018, the album debuted atop the charts and remains the highest-selling album of [...]

  • monty-python-are-fifty-in-2019

    Previously Unreleased Monty Python Audio to Get Airing for Troupe's 50th Anniversary

    Michael Palin will exec-produce series of radio specials containing never-before-released audio from Monty Python as part of the 50th anniversary celebrations for the iconic comedy troupe. They will play on the BBC in the U.K. and then go out in the U.S. Palin and his fellow Pythons – John Cleese, Terry Gilliam, Eric Idle, Terry [...]

More From Our Brands

Access exclusive content