Tribute to Salvador Allende

Acclaimed Chilean writer and politician Isabel Allende, niece of late President Salvador Allende, will be in the Greek capital in the first week of the fall season to attend a September 6 avant-premiere screening at the Apollon Cinema of the documentary «Salvador Allende» by Patricio Guzman, almost 31 years after the September 11, 1973 death of the visionary leader. The documentary film, which was on the bill at the last Cannes Film Festival – out of competition – is a tribute by the award-winning director to the memory of the late Chilean Marxist leader, composed of old footage and photo stills. The documentary opens with a series of photographs, secreted and saved for years by Allende’s governess of 17 years. Using rare archival material, Guzman’s film is much like an archaeological dig, bringing to light a story that for years lay buried in oblivion. Personal testimonies further document Allende’s rise to power and popularity, and Guzman aptly describes the unique union of an entire nation with the politician, the revolutionary who fought for democratic principles. Allende’s «mistake,» as it is portrayed in the film, was that he decided to fight only through legitimate channels, avoiding violent confrontations and armed conflict. On September 11, 1973, Allende was led to his death in a coup instigated by the United States and organized by American President Richard Nixon, who is shown fervently determined to get rid of the «son of a bitch,» as he used to refer to the Chilean leader. The scene of the presidential palace, surrounded and under fire, filmed in black-and-white and without sound, is one of the strongest moments in the documentary. The blood-soaked body of Allende is seen but briefly. Guzman concludes his archival footage with extracts of footage he shot when he returned to his homeland as a director. He was then the same age as many Chileans who had lived in hope of social justice when Allende was elected. The film depicts in black-and-white the crowds, the enthusiasm on their faces, flushed with certainty with belief in the man who supported a «peaceful revolution.» «Salvador Allende marked my life,» confesses Guzman in a film note. «I wouldn’t be what I am if he had not incarnated the utopia of a just and free world which ran through my country during those years. I was there, an actor and a filmmaker. I remember the air’s freshness, the deep fervor that united each of us with one another and with the rest of the world. We filmed this radiant dream with lucidity and passion. The entire society entered a state of love.»

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