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1976 (2022, CHILE) – 7/10

From Chile comes another film that thematizes a dark episode in the history of that South American country, that is, the period when the military junta headed by General Augusto Pinochet came to power there through a military coup. As is known, the Chilean army, with the wholehearted help of the American secret services, staged a coup in 1973 and overthrew the democratically elected president, Salvador Allende, who, according to the official version, took his own life. As the title of the film by Manuela Martelli, an actress turned screenwriter and director, suggests, the plot of her psychological drama-thriller takes place three years after a violent coup.

“1976” or “Chile ’76” had its premiere in Cannes, was then shown at numerous world festivals, and was nominated for the Spanish Goya Award for the best Latin American film of the year. In the center of attention is Carmen (Spanish actress Aline Küppenheim), the wife of a distinguished doctor and a woman from an upper middle class whose family somehow by inertia is for the conservative, right-wing Pinochet government. We can already see in the great opening scene that these are extremely dangerous times. Carmen is buying paint for a cottage somewhere on the coast in a store in Santiago, and a commotion can be heard outside. However, no one in the salon reacts, everyone pretends that nothing is happening, even though it is obvious that the secret police are kidnapping someone, probably an opponent of the regime who is sure to be tortured, then death.

Carmen coldly drives her Peugeot to the cottage where she plans to spend the weekend with her family, where she will be met by a local priest with a dangerous request. He will ask to hide a young man wounded in the leg for a few days, and although he presents Elias as an ordinary criminal, it is clear that this long-haired, bearded young man is a member of the anti-Pinoche underground organization. And it works mysteriously from the beginning of “1976”, and the film will turn into an interesting combination of psychological drama and thriller, a character study of a woman in her fifties who will obviously no longer be able to pretend that all the horror that is happening around her is something normal.

She will no longer be able to act like an average conformist, burying her head in the sand, but will get involved in a dangerous situation trying to protect the young man. Martelli brilliantly portrays that anxious, schizophrenic situation in the country at that time, sometimes unjustified, and more often completely justified paranoia and fear that the tormentors might come knocking on your door next. It is a film about the moral dilemma of a woman who is aware that the safest thing for her would be not to get involved in what does not concern her and to stay away, enjoying the benefits of a relatively easy life. But as much as she pretends that nothing abnormal is happening in the country, Carmen knows very well what will happen to Elias if she turns him in. She feels that in some way she has to resist the evil that surrounds her and simply realizes that she can no longer live like this, even if she endangers not only her safety, but also the safety of her family members.