Legacy of a struggle: Patricio Guzmán’s The Battle of Chile and Chile Obstinate Memory

‌Date: Monday 25th and Tuesday 26th April 2016, 6pm - 10pm both days

Location: 70 Oxford Street, Manchester, M1 5NH

Tickets: FREE - available at: legacy-of-struggle.eventbrite.com


In November 1970, Chile became the first South American nation to democratically elect a Marxist government. In Salvador Allende, they had a president whose policies of land collectivisation and nationalisation of industry inspired widespread optimism among the Chilean working-class. His socialist agenda provoked a similarly impassioned, defiant response from the right-wing opposition, factory owners and industrial leaders, in a standoff that would cripple the country economically for much of Allende’s term in office.

A group of young filmmakers sought to document the “people’s revolution” at ground level, but what began as an attempt to capture the revolutionary spirit on the streets soon turned into an unprecedented account of the incendiary socio-political climate of general strikes and violent uprisings that came to define Allende’s presidency. This tumultuous 3-year period culminated in a violent coup, in which Allende was killed and that saw General Augusto Pinochet’s military dictatorship rule over the country well into the 1980s.

The Battle of Chile is breath-taking documentary filmmaking on a truly epic scale: a portrait of a country falling apart, in real time. By turn poetic, disturbing, heart-breaking and inspiring, filmmaker Thom Andersen called it “history written in lightning”.

Its images – from the uprising of June 1973 to the deadly attack on the presidential palace on September 11th 1973 - shocked the world. They also serve as a testament to the undying faith and perseverance of the working people, whose participation and loyalty to their government in the face of an unprecedented social & economic emergency is the real story at the heart of these films.

Director Patricio Guzmán, who  edited & released the films in exile, wouldn't return to his homeland to screen his films until the 1990’s. He has continued  to chronicle the legacy of these events, most recently with the critically acclaimed  Nostalgia For The Light and The Pearl Button.


Screening details:

Monday 25th April – Part 1: Insurrection of the Bourgeoisie (1975) & Part 2: The Coup D’Etat (1976)

With an introduction by Dr Francisca Sanchez Ortiz (Department of Languages, Information and Communications, Manchester Metropolitan University)

Tuesday 26th April – Part 3: Power of the People (1979) & Chile, Obstinate Memory (1996)

With an accompanying talk by Dr Thomas Rudman (Department of English, Manchester Metropolitan University): The Camera and the Gun: Commitment, Documentary Film and Responses to the Coup in Chile

This talk sets out to examine Patricio Guzmán’s documentary films in relation to the conventions of the New Latin American Cinema movement and the politics of committed art. Focusing on Guzmán’s narration of the events of 1972-1973, it seeks to examine how his films offer an analysis that refuses to confirm many of the dominant European leftist interpretations of the overthrow of the Allende led UP government. Rather than view the tragedy as portentous for socialism and popular power, necessitating a politics of ‘historical compromise’ with non-socialist parties, or as an inevitable tragedy within a broader global shift towards neoliberalism, my aim is to examine the extent to which Guzmán offers an account that while tragic, still contains a vision of hope in its depiction of a politicised working class often in advance of its designated leadership.