Chile / Spain, 1987 (MIFF 1988, Documentary)
Director: Patricio Guzman
Well known for his landmark Battle of Chile trilogy, which received considerable international exposure and press coverage during the 1970's, Patncio Guzman returned to his native country m 1986 to shoot this documentary dealing with the role of the Roman Catholic Church in Chile during the years following the coup, with special emphasis on its human rights stance.
After the coup d'etat by Pinochet, the Church openly sided with the persecuted, creating the Vicarea de la Sohdandad (Vicarage of Solidarity), a sort of shadow Ministry of Justice, in order to provide defence assistance to prisoners in civil and military courts, presenting appeals, charges and claims of all sorts The Vicarage also keeps an archive of cases of "desaparecidos" since 1973 Gradually, the Church has become the institution with the highest credibility in the eyes of the people, hut unpopular with the government.
The young doctor and lawyer who, in the film's early pan explain the vicarage's workings, are later arrested and jailed To structure his film, Guzman continuously alternates certain basic elements police repression with truncheons, tear gas and water cannons, testimonials by relatives of missing persons, both about their own plight and the assistance they receive from the Church, priests at the grassroots level and their work Contrast is provided through official ceremonies with military chaplains officiating, and closeup views of General Pinochet attending mass.
"I have nothing personal against General Pinochet", says a priest from Santiago, "but he has caused a lot of damage He should be judged by the nation and assume the responsibility of his actions I want to love him as a brother, but in prison”.