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The Crack Magazine

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My Imaginary Country

Director: Patricio Guzmán

Veteran Chilean documentarian Guzman’s film is a timely and quietly inspiring essay about political activism, focusing on the female dissenting voices, which revolves around the 2019 protests where one-and-a-half million protestors took to the Santiago streets. Guzmán sites the 30 peso increase in subway fares as the starting point and, heeding mentor and filmmaker Chris Marker’s advice that ‘When you want to film a fire, you must be at the place where the first flame will appear’, captures the protests predominantly at street level as the camera is jostled and stones rattle off armoured police cars. Alongside the footage, the picture contains thoughtful interviews – carried out before Gabriel Boric’s ‘Unity for Chile’ party won the 2022 election, seeing off right wing candidate José Antonio Kast Rist – with journalists, first aid workers, protestors, photographers and academics. Billed as the ‘Chess Player’, Chilean lawyer Damaris Abarca delivers a sobering rundown of potential pitfalls prior to the election. In voiceover, the director, recalling his own part in protests following the CIA-backed ’73 coup against President Salvador Allende, observes of current events that it is ‘as if the soul had returned to the body’. Guzmán captures a strange abstract beauty in the drone-captured aerial shots of a truck spraying teargas as thousands of protestors surge. In an upbeat 2022 conclusion, where the imaginary becomes solid, the newly-elected thirty-five-year-old Boric devotes part of his speech to the ‘women of our homeland’.

David Willoughby

Follow David on Twitter @DWill_Crackfilm