Tribute film to Salvador Allende

Patricio Guzman’s stirring documentary «Salvador Allende» is making its international premiere in commercial distribution tomorrow in Greece after being screened at the Cannes Film Festival earlier in the year, and coinciding with the 31st commemoration of the former Chilean president’s death during the coup d’etat on September 11, 1973 that brought Augusto Pinochet to power. During the official premiere screening in Athens on Monday evening, local press had the opportunity to meet with the writer and director of the documentary, as well as Allende’s daughter, Isabel, a parliamentary deputy in Chile. They spoke extensively on how Allende had influenced them on a personal level and how he affected the country as a whole. Guzman, who returned to Chile just recently following a 30-year period of exile, explained that the film is «a tribute to honor Salvador Allende and to September 11, 1973, the last utopia of the 20th century. «The mass media, and television especially, don’t like to speak of Allende’s death, as if it were something they are ashamed of,» he added in reference to the current situation in Chile. Indeed, the director himself was compelled to take Chilean state television to court for using footage from his own films on Allende in order to present a distorted version of history. «They never show the truth, because they are afraid,» charges Guzman. «The are terrified of any analysis of the past, as if it were sex or something.» «I understand how Patricio Guzman feels,» said Isabel Allende, who saw the documentary for the first time on Monday. «Some things have been changing the past few years and in place of censorship, and the self-censorship of the media in Chile, we are seeing the first documentaries and first events in honor of Allende. These began appearing mainly after Pinochet was arrested in London [in October 1998].» But Guzman describes these efforts as «cowardly changes,» adding, «I insist on focusing on that period, the most important we have ever experienced, because I believe that if a country wants to have substance, it must also have a past, a memory.» Guzman does not hide his admiration for the late Chilean president; he has already made four documentaries on Allende’s three-year tenure at the head of the country. «He dared to do something unprecedented, a peaceful revolution. These are the politicians that give decency to politics, usually identified with corruption and arrogance.» «Salvador Allende» has already ensured distribution in the United States and Canada, but not for the countries of Latin America.

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