Patricio GuzmÁn - Director

Nationality: Chilean. Born: Santiago de Chile, 11 August 1941. Education: Escuela oficial de cinematografia (EOC), Madrid, graduated 1969. Career: After writing novels, joined Filmic Institute, Catholic University in Santiago, 1965; left for Spain, 1967; returned to Chile, joined Chile-Films (national film production company), heading Documentary Film Workshops, 1970; constituted Group of the Third Year to produce The Battle of Chile , imprisoned shortly after September coup d'etat, 1973; moved to Cuba, 1974, completed The Battle of Chile , 1977; moved to Spain, 1980.

Films as Director:


Viva la libertad ( Hail to Freedom ) (short)


Artesania popular ( Popular Crafts ) (short); Electroshow (short)


Cien Metros con Charlot ( One Hundred Meters with Chaplin ); Escuela de sordomudos ( School for Deafmutes )


La tortura ( Torture ); Imposibrante


Opus seis ( Opus Six ); El Paraiso ortopedico ( Orthopedic Paradise )


Elecciones municipales ( Municipal Elections ); El primer año ( The First Year )


La respuesta de Octobre ( The Response in October ); Comandos comunales ( Communal Organization ); Manuel Rodriquez (unfinished)


La batalla de Chile: La lucha de un pueblo sin armas ( The Battle of Chile: The Struggle of an Unarmed People ) Part 1: La insurrección de la burguesia ( Insurrection of the Bourgeoisie )


Part 2: El golpe de estado ( Coup d'état )


Part 3: El poder popular ( The Popular Power )


La rosa de los vientos ( Rose of the Winds )


En el Nombre de Dios


La Cruz del Sur


Chile, la memoria obstinada ( Chile, the Obstinate Memory )


By GUZMÁN: books—

La insurrección de la burgesia , edited by Racinante, Caracas, 1975.

La batalla de Chile: La lucha de un pueblo sin armas , Madrid, 1977.

El cine contra el fascismo , with P. Sempere, edited by Fernando Torres, Valencia, 1977.

By GUZMÁN: articles—

"Le Cinéma dans la politique de l'Unité Populaire," in Jeune Cinéma (Paris), November 1974.

"La Bataille du Chili II," interview with Marcel Martin, in Ecran (Paris), January 1977.

"Politics and the Documentary in People's Chile," interview with Julianne Burton, in Socialist Review , October 1977.

" La batalla de Chile ," interview with Carlos Galiano, in Cine Cubano (Havana), no. 91–92, 1978.

"Chile," 3: Guzmán," and "Chile," in Framework (Norwich), Spring and Autumn 1979.

Interview with Z. M. Pick, in Ciné-Tracts (Montreal), Winter 1980.

On GUZMÁN: books—

Burton, Julianne, editor, Cinema and Social Change in Latin America: Conversations with Filmmakers , Austin, Texas, 1986.

King, John, Magical Realism: A History of Cinema in Latin America , London, 1990.

On GUZMÁN: articles—

Gauthier, Guy, "Chili: la première année," in Image et Son (Paris), March 1973.

Gauthier, Guy, " La Bataille du Chili , première partie: L'Insurrection de la bourgeoisie ," in Image et Son (Paris), January 1976.

Niogret, Hubert, " La Batalla de Chile: el golpe de estado ," in Positif (Paris), July/August 1976.

Delmas, Jean, " La Batalla de Chile , deuxième partie: Le Coup d'état ," in Jeune Cinéma (Paris), February 1977.

West, Dennis, " The Battle of Chile ," in Cineaste (New York), vol. 11, no. 2, 1978.

West, Dennis, "Documenting the End of the Chilean Road to Socialism: La Batalla de Chile ," in The American Hispanist , February 1978.

" La Batalla de Chile Section" of Cine Cubano (Havana), March 1978.

Angry Arts group, " Battle of Chile in Context," and V. Wallis, " Battle of Chile : Struggle of People without Arms," in Jump Cut (Chicago), November 1979.

Mouesca, J., "El cine chileño en el exilio (1973–1983)," in Cine Cubano (Havana), no. 109, 1984.

Obituary, in Variety (New York), 14 January 1991.

* * *

Chilean director Patricio Guzmán studied fiction filmmaking in Spain in the 1960s, but he eventually dropped plans to make fiction features when he returned to Chile during the presidency of the Marxist-socialist Salvador Allende (1970–73). Guzmán is above all a political filmmaker, and the intense everyday political activities in Allende's Chile stimulated Guzmán to take to the streets and factories in order to make documentary records of those fast-paced events. In all three of his documentaries on Allende's Chile— El primer año, La respuesta de Octubre , and La batalla de Chile —the director rejected archival footage and the compilation approach in favor of immersing himself in significant political events in order to obtain actuality footage.

Guzmán's success in obtaining meaningful and abundant actuality footage is due in large part to his (and his colleagues') marked ability to understand and foresee the flow of political events. Political savvy coupled with rigorous and disciplined production techniques allowed Guzmán and his production groups to overcome formidable obstacles, including financial and technical difficulties. To film the three feature-length parts of the masterwork La batalla de Chile , the director and his collective had access to one 16mm Eclair camera and one Nagra tape recorder; film stock, unavailable in Chile, had been sent from abroad by a European colleague. During his stay in Allende's Chile, Guzmán successfully combined his personal political militancy with his concept of the role of the filmmaker. Guzmán, a committed Marxist, wished to make films that would help Allende's leftist Popular Unity coalition take power. Marx and Engels ( Manifesto of the Communist Party ) viewed classes as the protagonists of history, and conflict as an inherent dimension of class societies; Guzmán follows this Marxist conception in that classes are the protagonists of his films and events are framed in terms of class conflict. In accordance with the Marxist-Leninist revolutionary view that there can be no peaceful transition to socialism before the repressive machinery of the bourgeois state is broken up and replaced, the first two parts of La batalla de Chile follow the military's drift to the right as well as the anti-Allende activities of the opposition-dominated legislature. Both La respuesta de Octubre and part three of La batalla de Chile center on workers organizing as a class in order to achieve self-emancipation and transform the world created by the bourgeoisie.

The style of the journalistic El primer año is unexceptional, and it was only with La batalla de Chile that Guzmán found a distinctive documentary style. This style is characterized by the frequent use of the sequence shot, which the director prefers because it is a synthetic device allowing spectators to see events unfolding in front of their eyes without breaks in the flow of the images. El primer año and La respuesta de Octubre have not circulated widely outside of Allende's Chile. Inside Allende's Chile, these documentaries were well received by working-class audiences. La respuesta de octubre was particularly popular with workers who, heartened to see their efforts to create worker-controlled industrial zones documented on film, facilitated the documentary's distribution in the country's factories.

Guzmán's international reputation as a documentary filmmaker has been secured by La batalla de Chile , hailed by both Marxist and non-Marxist critics in many countries as a landmark in the history of the political documentary.

—Dennis West

User Contributions:

Comment about this article, ask questions, or add new information about this topic:

Other articles you might like: