The International Documentary Film Festival Amsterdam (IDFA), one of the leading non-fiction film festivals in the world, has named Chilean filmmaker Patricio Guzmán as Guest of Honor for its upcoming edition to take place November 20 - December 1 in the Netherlands. As the Guest of Honor, Guzmán will be fêted with a retrospective of his work, and he’ll participate in select Q&A’s as well as being the main speaker in the Filmmaker Talk section of the Dutch festival. Additionally, he’ll also select his ten favorite films of all time to be screen during the festival.
One of the few living legends of documentary cinema today, 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.