Close Up

27 January 2013: The Battle of Chile


The Battle of Chile
Patricio Guzmán
1978 | 262 min | B/W | Digital

The latest edition of Vertigo Magazine features an extensive interview with Patricio Guzmán in which the director provides a thrilling overview of his career. To mark the release of this issue and in commemoration of 40 years since the Chilean coup d’état, we present The Battle of Chile, Guzmán's epic and gripping documentary about the political turmoil in Chile in the 1970s, leading to revolution and the deposition of its democratically elected socialist president, Salvador Allende; a decisive event not only in the history of Chile but of the Cold War itself. For Chile, the brutal, suppressive rule of General Pinochet followed. The urgency in the making of The Battle of Chile is palpable watching it today. 

"Not only the best films about Allende and the coup d’état, but among the best documentary films ever made, changing our concepts of political documentary within a framework accessible to the widest audience." – Time Out Film Guide

On September 11, 1973, President Salvador Allende's democratically-elected Chilean government was overthrown in a bloody coup by General Augusto Pinochet's army. Patricio Guzmán and five colleagues had been filming the political developments in Chile throughout the nine months leading up to that day. The bombing of the Presidential Palace, during which Allende died, would now become the ending for Guzmán’s seminal documentary The Battle of Chile, an epic chronicle of that country's open and peaceful socialist revolution, and of the violent counter-revolution against it.

We are also delighted to be joined by Sergio Claudio Correa, who will be sharing his experiences of the coup in a Q&A following the screening. In 1973 Correa was a political activist in central Chile who escaped to the UK with his life in 1975.

"The 11th of September 1973 coup d'état finds me in Quillota (central Chile) where I was working as an agronomist for the Agricultural Ministry and also a political activist.  Like many colleagues I was arrested on 16th September and taken to the Navy Prison & Torture Centre in Belloto, Silva Palma and the Naval Frigate "Lebu".  We were tortured with the highly sophisticated and terrifying methods that the military and naval officers had been trained for. After five months, I was transferred to an isolated and frightening prisoner camp Tejas Verdes and Melinca, (also in central Chile).

There, we were visited by the International Red Cross and it was established that I was alive and had not "disappeared" as it was the case of the many of the political prisoners who were simply drugged and dumped in the sea....

The plight of Chile was beginning to gain some notoriety... involvement of Nixon, CIA, USA emerges victorious having caused Allende's death and defeated the struggle of the Chilean people.

I was "allowed" a visit to my family under the protection of the International Red Cross but my life was in danger so my "colleagues" and fellow activists who were "resisting" underground helped me to climb the very tall wall of the Italian Embassy in Santiago and this saved my life.   The UK gave me political asylum and I arrived here in January 1975.  I studied and worked and learned to live in Great Britain. The solidarity of the British people has been enormous throughout these years. I am now retired, I have written a book about my experiences and also written 20 poems. I continue to fight for social justice and a better world." – Sergio Claudio Correa