At IDFA 2019: the world according to Patricio Guzmán

    In November, we welcome Chilean filmmaker Patricio Guzmán as our Guest of Honor at IDFA 2019. Read more about this uncompromising master of cinema, and his special role at the upcoming festival, below.

    One of the few living legends of documentary cinema today, Chilean filmmaker Patricio Guzmán’s body of work has been influential for over 50 years. His work as a young filmmaker at the end of the 1960s and throughout the 1970s—beginning with his first film On Torture and Other Forms of Dialogue (1968) and particularly with his masterpiece trilogy The Battle of Chile (1974-1979)—framed the world’s understanding of what happened in his home country during and after the infamous Pinochet military coup d'état. Guzmán’s films did not stop at telling us what happened; they inspired a global wave of revolutionary cinema and ignited the movement we now call “committed cinema.”

    During the first decade of his exile, Guzmán’s personal experiences tell a story of a global documentary film community that stood in solidarity and shared a dream of a better and more just world. His personal journey, his trips between his European exile and Latin America, his friendship with the iconic filmmaker Chris Marker and the difficult and risky films that emerged from their allyship—all became part of an inspiring history of cinema that is often forgotten.

    After the Battle of Chile trilogy, Guzmán settled in exile, first in Spain and then in France. His work continued to examine and challenge the harsh reality of dictatorship in Chile. Even after Pinochet’s fall, Guzmán still had stories to tell, questions to ask, and images to unearth with films such as Chile, Obstinate Memory (1997), The Pinochet Case (2001), and Salvador Allende (2004).

    In the past ten years, Guzmán’s oeuvre took a different path, introducing us to a matured cinematic exploration of the world. His award-winning trilogy of Nostalgia for the Light (2010), The Pearl Button (2015), and The Cordillera of Dreams (2019) takes the brutal experience of the Chilean people under dictatorship to a figurative place that examines the basic elements of nature. The lived history of one people becomes a universal pain that is as existential as our relationship with the stars, with water, with deserts, and with mountains.

    Not many of Guzman’s films were shown in the Netherlands before. This gap makes us even more excited to celebrate him as our Guest of Honor in 2019, this being the year that his latest trilogy ends with a new film. Guzmán is an inspiring, uncompromising master of cinema, whose work can give us hope despite all the fear and pain that remains.

    As the IDFA tradition of the Top 10 section goes, Guzmán will be present while we show a retrospective of his work. He will also join us in the IDFA cinemas for inspiring discussions, and he will be the speaker at our main Filmmaker Talk. Finally, he will offer his ten favorite films from the history of cinema, old and new, and tell us why and how he came to love these films and cinema itself.