Following the fall of Pinochet, director Patricio Guzmán returns to his homeland after 23 years in exile. In his suitcase, he brings with him The Battle of Chile, his trilogy about Salvador Allende’s party and the violent military coup of 1973. It has been screened all over the world, but never in Chile itself.
Guzmán wants to investigate the role of memories, and notices that many of his compatriots have buried their traumas deep within themselves. He watches the film together with people who were close to Allende. Sometimes the viewers recognize themselves in the black-and-white scenes, but even more often they recognize friends or family members who were “disappeared.”
For this older generation, Allende embodied their hope for a better, fairer future. But most younger people, who were born during the period of the dictatorship, have no idea about this past, and are only aware of the official version of history. One group of students who watch The Battle of Chile are left in shock. The emotions and conversations afterwards are intense and meaningful, providing a powerful example of what documentaries can unleash and achieve.