City of Photographers

Naomi Roht-Arriaza is a professor of law at the University of California, Hastings College of Law, and author of The Pinochet Effect: Transnational Justice in the Age of Human Rights.

The city in question is Santiago, and the photographers are those of the Independent Photographers Guild Association (AFI) under the reign of Augusto Pinochet. This dynamic documentary examines photography's many roles-as record, memorial, tool of surveillance, weapon of resistance, addictive high-while foregrounding the vision of AFI members who produced exceptional work under constant threat of censorship, imprisonment, and death. Through interviews, archival footage, and the photos themselves, the film focuses on this small contingent of journalists who would not be deterred from reporting what they witnessed, particularly the brutal clashes between civilians and police on the streets of Santiago. The struggle to control the political power of these images is revealed in newspapers and magazines that were boldly published with blank, captioned boxes where the banned photos should have appeared. The lessons offered on the necessity of a free, critical press are universal.

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