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Patricio Guzmán

"Patricio Guzmán's heartbreaking probe of Chile's revolution, the Pinochet coup, and the long entangled aftermath will be considered in centuries to come one of the most eloquent and daring explorations of revolution and repression, hope and memory, to survive our sorry times. What Guzmán passionately and clinically observes in Chile is valid for the whole world."—Ariel Dorfman

Patricio Guzmán is a Chilean filmmaker whose most recent documentary “Nostalgia for the Light"  (2010) is about memory - memory as far back as the Big Bang and as recently as the brutal dictatorship of Chile's Augusto Pinochet.  With this documentary, Guzmán emphasizes how the past shapes the present and how "life is memory, everything is memory".  “Nostalgia for the Light” won Best Documentary (Prix ARTE) at the European Film Academy Awards, and was also named one of the Top Ten Best Movies of 2010 by Sight & Sound magazine.

The day after the military coup in Chile, Guzmán was imprisoned in the National Stadium where he was held for 15 days.  Once freed, he left for Europe with the film canisters that would eventually become one of his most well-known documentaries, “The Battle of Chile”, a trilogy about the presidency of Salvador Allende.  Filming had lasted until the very day of the coup.  The Cuban Film Institute—the ICAIC—offered support so that Guzmán could finish the film that ultimately won 6 Grand Prizes in Europe and Latin America and was shown in commercial theaters in 35 countries.  The film magazine Cineaste declared “The Battle of Chile” “one of the ten best political films in the world”.

In 1987 Guzmán made “In God's Name” (Grand Prize, Florence 1987) about the Catholic Church's fight for human rights in Chile.  From 1990 to 1992 he worked on “The Southern Cross” (Grand Prize, Marseille 1992) about the theology of liberation and popular religion in Latin America.  In 1997, “Chile, Obstinate Memory” (Sundance Film Festival 1998) looked into collective political amnesia in Chile.  1999 brought “Robinson Crusoe Island” about the remote Chilean island of the same name. “The Pinochet Case” in 2001 examined the international legal case brought against General Augusto Pinochet (Grand Prize, Marseille 2001). 

In 2006 Icarus Films released Guzmán’s “Salvador Allende”, another acclaimed, award-winning film (Official Selection, Cannes, 2004) which tells the story of Salvador Allende from his youth in Valparaiso and his early presidential campaigns, to his bold nationalist reforms and his death during the violent rightist coup of September 11, 1973.

Guzmán was born in 1941 in Santiago, Chile.  As an adolescent in the late 1950's he became drawn to documentary filmmaking when he had the opportunity to see some of the films of Chris Marker, Frederic Rossif and Louis Malle.  He studied filmmaking at the Film Institute at the Catholic University of Chile, and at the Official School of Film in Madrid, where he obtained his degree in Film Direction in 1970.  Guzmán currently chairs the International Documentary Film Festival (FIDOCS) in Santiago, Chile, which he founded in 1997.  He teaches documentary film classes in Europe and Latin America.  Guzmán lives in Paris, France with Renate Sachse, who collaborates on the scripts for his films and produced “Nostalgia for the Light”.


Return to Tribute to Justice: Remembering 40 years September 9th 2013.