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Acta General de Chile (General Report on Chile)

Miguel Littin, long at the forefront of Chilean cinema and one of some 5,000 Chileans permanently exiled by the Pinochet government in 1973, has pulled off his own small coup in Acta General de Chile. In one of the most courageous acts of cinema ever undertaken, Littin returned to Chile in 1985 under deep cover to document the current political climate under Pinochet. His elaborate disguise-a virtual transformation into a Uruguayan businessman-and the various ruses by which, with the participation of international and local film crews, he made a film without appearing to be making one, certainly constitutes a story of its own, and in fact is the subject of a new book by Gabriel García Márquez. But the effort should not overshadow the important result, a four-hour film for TV (also released in the shorter theatrical version we present tonight) that is both a remarkably thorough exposé and an impassioned personal outcry against the military dictatorship. Littin's investigation of "daily lives in Chile and how they have changed under the dictatorship" takes him through cities, ports and countryside; families talk of their desaparecidos, of poverty in Valparaiso and in the barren north, of the militarization of education and of clandestine efforts to combat malnutrition. A section of the film is devoted to the opposition and its leaders, from the late poet Pablo Neruda to contemporary guerillas. The film closes with an emotional eyewitness account of the murder of Salvatore Allende. Littin, who was President of Chile Films under Allende's Popular Unity Government, even in exile continued to make distinctly Chilean films including Actas de Marusia (1976), El Recurso del Metodo (1978), La Vinda de Montiel (1980) and Alsino y El Condor (1982).

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