Probably, the most eagerly awaited Chilean film screening outside the competitive sections of the 30th FICValdivia was Socialist Realism, by Raúl Ruiz and Valeria Sarmiento, which premiered at Universidad Austral de Chile’s Aula Magna.
Ruiz shot the film between 1972 and 1973, but it was left unfinished after the director’s departure to France. It was the production company POETASTROS who reinitiated the project, organizing the titanic task of recovering and restoring the original material, scattered between the United States and Europe. Valeria Sarmiento organized a new editing process and completed a 78-minute cut, fifty years after it was filmed, which premiered at the Festival, also as part of the commemoration of the 50th anniversary of the coup d’état in Chile.
The picture is a scathing look at the last months of Salvador Allende’s government, a scenario under maximum social tension, in which these crossed stories are established: the attempt of laborers to take over the company where they work, in order to make it operational; the process of a group of leftist intellectuals who try to effectively join the political struggle; and the tale of a state official entangled in the administrative bureaucracy of which he is a part.
All these inputs point to a critical and acerbic vision of the period’s left wing, to the opposing views nested within the Socialist Party regarding the political project, and to the ambivalence between the social implications of the revolutionary process and the personal sacrifices that this very process implied.
The film prolongs in many ways the crude look at the lumpenbourgeoisie exposed in Tres Tristes Tigres and in Nadie Dijo Nada, which will become even more radical in Diálogos de Exiliados. Along with this, the unmistakable signs of Ruiz’s style of this period are also present: the construction of verbal situations that operate as paradoxes and word games, an inorganic and free structure, and a staging dominated by long shots of great vitality, thanks to Jorge Müller’s impeccable work.
In the editing organized by Valeria Sarmiento, there is also a will to make the film dialogue with the present, and it is virtually impossible, from that point of view, not to analyze the current political processes in Chile, in light of the contradictions that Ruiz observed in those years.
Socialist Realism closes the Ruizian trilogy composed also by La Telenovela Errante (2017) and El Tango del Viudo y su Espejo Deformante (2020), recoveries made thanks to the work of POETASTROS’ Chamila Rodríguez and Galut Alarcón, all of them premiered at FICValdivia.