QUITO.- In Ecuador for the opening of his latest film “Allende”, the Chilean filmmaker Miguel Littín, said that art is an instrument to describe injustice to the public.
The work narrates the last hours of Chilean president, Salvador Allende, who took his own life on September 11, 1973 in order to evade being captured by the leaders of a coup d’etat that subjected the nation to 16 years of military dictatorship.
The 70 year-old founding member and staunch defender of the New Latin American Cinema Movement, vowed to continue to use cinema as a means of struggle until his dying day.
Shortly after a screening of his work in the Central University of Ecuador, he reflected on the frequent criticism of his generation for making very dramatic movies by saying that it had fallen on them to live through such an era.
He explained that the making of this film arose from a debt to history, to Chile and to Latin America; Allende is the greatest contribution that Chile can make to the world.
According to the director, his aim was to tell the story of a human being, the Allende he knew, the man he saw every day, to which end he called on the memories of many and spent years interviewing “Palacio de la Moneda” -the seat of government - survivors.
He stated that events portrayed in his film could be questioned but not denied.
The film recreates history and fantasy mostly through the projection of a succession of large close ups, which is how Littín says he sees life and this story in particular.
In an interview with The Havana Reporter, the director said that he very much liked close-ups, because they opened up the possibility of accessing human sentiment and awakened in the spectator the need to know what it is that the characters are thinking and feeling.
In addition, the movie was shot in Caracas, meaning that the facade of the Palace could not be used in the set design.
He said that he used the faces of his characters as his set design, which became a way to make the telling of the tale more personal through the inclusion of a degree of poetry and abstraction to bear witness to the events through the eyes of another, explaining the need for close-ups, something he said he was not at all afraid to employ.
Littín admitted to using nonprofessional actors in some of his scenes, saying he is able to work with whoever is at is side, the only matter of importance being that emotions are honestly portrayed.
It is for this very reason that he endeavors to present a portrait of the natural Allende; vivacious, uncompromising and at the same time romantic and love-struck.
He recalls him as being even more prone to falling in love than the film suggests, because he could never stay quiet should a beautiful woman pass, he would give her a flower if one was to hand, something he himself saw in the Palacio de la Moneda and decided to include in this picture.
In spite of objections by some, Litton asks why not? Why should it be believed that on September 11, 1973, the President would become someone who only fired shots and stops being the gallant gentleman he always had been?
With two Oscar nominations and various Ariel prizes amongst other awards, the director said that he does not want to compete in any more competitions, because prizes detract from the true reason for cinema, which is to celebrate the viewing of diverse films.
This is why when his most recent film is presented at the forthcoming annual Festival of New Latin American Cinema in Havana, Cuba, it will be outside of the competition.
After his long years of professional experience, he feels that cinema is a means of communication and a duty. His portrayal of Allende arouses tenderness, trust, strength and ultimately, as an audience reasonably might expect, bestows nuances of an upstanding combatant on his friend.
Amidst the chaos of nerves, smoke and destruction, as armed men pass one of many of the corpses that would be found at the Palacio de la Moneda on that day, somebody in the movie and also in the audience realizes that it is that of Allende, one amongst many.
Allende descended from an aristocratic family but from a young age embraced socialist idealism and Littín emphasizes in his film Allende’s ability to interact on a par with the people and to conscientiously implement popular programs.
The extraordinary filmmaker said that Allende understood what he would die for. He was not innocent, but guilty of wanting us to enjoy more freedom.Share on FB Share on TT