Dazed Digital

Santiago / Español

La Muerte de Pinochet

September 19, 2011

Bettina Perut and Iván Osnovikoff's satirical documentary about former dictator Augusto Pinochet

  • Text by Nico Castro

Augusto Pinochet is one of the most controversial figures in Latin American history. In 1973 he commanded the coup that ended with Salvador Allende's government, the first socialist to earn its right through democracy, and his dictatorship lasted until 1990. His image got severe setbacks after that. First, when he was held in custody in London for his crimes against human rights, and then when it was discovered that he had several funds in different countries.

Pinochet died in 2006, and the country was separated once more between his fans and haters. Filmmakers Bettina Perut and Iván Osnovikoff were collecting material for another documentary when they realised that they could create a documentary on Pinochet, with their typical ironic view. "La Muerte de Pinochet" (Pinochet's death) is definitely one of the most awaited releases of the year.

Satellite Voices: How did the idea of documenting Augusto Pinochet's death occurred?
Iván Osnovikoff:
The origin of the idea was accidental. We were recording material for another movie and this thing with Pinochet was happening, so we started recording. But it was "documenting", which sounds a little bureaucratic. Only a year later we realised that this material could be useful for another different movie.

SV: Your treatment of the facts is very atypical and ironic. Can you explain its use and the development of the documentary?
Iván Osnovikoff:
It's just the way we see things. And that overview, which combines satirical with melodrama, is transferred to our movies. Making documentaries with a sad atmosphere and destined to inform doesn't suit us. Reality is made up of many things at the same time and we don't see any reason to hide some of them, like the ridiculous and pathetic ones, for a supposed ethical duty of creating positive forms of human representation. One of the good things about working with art is the freedom to ignore those limits.

SV: Do you think that Chile and the international community are prepared to see such a controversial event in that way?
Iván Osnovikoff:
More than prepared... Imagine the level of audiovisual stress that we are exposed to everyday by television, without exceptions like the attack on the Twin Towers. A satirical overview of a dictatorship's death shouldn't kill anyone. The problem is within elites, based on moral or political estimations.

SV: Do you think that Pinochet's figure is still important in Chile?
Iván Osnovikoff:
It doesn't have the same importance than when he was taken to jail in London, but we can't forget the fact that more than half of the people in Chile sympathised with him. He's one of the main figures in the history of Chile. Although it is also clear that the image of his as a criminal and being corrupt is also the most known.

SV: How do you project the reception of the documentary in other countries, especially in Europe?
Iván Osnovikoff:
The movie was also part of Documenta Madrid. Now it's going to Warsaw and then Finland. We haven't been in touch with the European audience before, but I don't think it's going to be different that what we've felt in Buenos Aires or here in Santiago - a huge connection with the younger audiences. They value that rude attitude towards conventional symbols.

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