“A country without documentaries is like a family without photo albums.” -Patricio Guzmán
The Centro Cultural de España in Providencia has continually worked to provide artistic events that let visitors to come face to face with history. Most recently, they have begun screening a series of documentaries by renowned Chilean documentary-filmmaker Patricio Guzmán, organized in conjunction with the Universidad Academia de Humanismo Cristiano.
During the months of June and July, visitors will be able to view some of his most thought-provoking work, including “La Batalla de Chile” (The Battle of Chile) and “Salvador Allende”. The exhibit’s mission is to spark discussion on a key period in Chilean history and its continued relevance today.
Patricio Guzmán was born in 1941 in Santiago. He studied at the Escuela Oficial de Cinematografía de Madrid where he completed his degree in Documentary Studies.
In 1973 he created “La Batalla de Chile,” a five-hour documentary about the end of the Allende administration. CINEASTE magazine named it one of the 10 best political films in the world.
To such praise, Guzmán responds with a somewhat perplexed humility. “I confess that I don’t feel comfortable with those kinds of statements,” he said regarding the high praise for his film. “For many years, I didn’t know what ‘La Batalla de Chile’ was. Even while I was making it I thought no one would like it, that it was just for academics. I had no idea it could have such universal value.”
“I have tried to always search, to explore. Because I am always on that plane of existence, I am often insecure,” he explained.
Guzmán also founded the International Documentary Festival in Santiago, FIDOCS for its initials in Spanish, in 1997. Each year the festival screens some of the best documentaries around the world in Santiago and Paris.
The festival, which brings in some 10,000 spectators in Santiago alone, has shown over 710 documentaries from different parts of the globe.
Guzmán elaborated that he wanted to show the Santiago public the vast array of documentaries that he had been fortunate to view during his life abroad. But most of all, he wanted to show the documentaries to young directors and producers because for many years Chilean television didn’t broadcast the massive documentary productions from Europe.
“I had a different experience,” he said. “In the 50’s and 60’s when I was a teenager, a lot of important documentaries came to Chile.” He goes on to explain that after the military takeover, Chileans lost contact with important international documentaries. It remained unchanged until the country restored democracy.
Guzmán is working to promote that revived interest.