Interrupted Memory Synopsis


Interrupted Memory is presented in two ways:

 as a complete film running 116 minutes
 as a set of eight chapters which can be viewed separately

 Also available will be two short videos extracted from the film:
     Chile: Divided Generations
     Power of the Song



1 – Remembering

After the title sequence (which was shot in Calle Lastarria in Santiago de Chile) the film begins in Argentina. The first group of reminiscences runs in reverse order of age, youngest to oldest, taking us back from a student occupation in the mid-1990s to the 1940s. Mostly (though not always) each person’s earliest political memory dates from five or six years old and upwards, and revolves around dramatic moments.

In a seminar at the University, Héctor Schmucler, the oldest of these speakers, who remembers the Second World War, asks about the subjective relevance of these early memories, and how understanding them depends on context: ‘If we look at the past through the lens of present-day concepts, and we don’t make the effort to understand what a concept meant at another time, then history is flat and memory is arbitrary.’

In Chile, a woman in her 70s remembers an episode from 1949 when her communist father was released from a concentration camp. Schmucler and his friend, Gustavo Cosacov, reflect on the differences between the political histories of Chile and Argentina, and the peculiar nature of Peronism in the latter.

Death of Peron: Identidades en contexto (Silvia Romano)
Méliès: A Trip to the Moon
Rally for Campora: CDA
Bombardment: El relato Gorila (YouTube)
Chile: Un siglo por Chile (María Isabel Donoso)
Peron: CDA

2 – Violence

Gustavo Cosacov recalls a childhood memory of a violent demonstration in Córdoba in 1958. Archive footage (narrated by Martín Ernesto Mozé) presents the events of 1955 when President Juan Perón was overthrown and driven into exile. The political climate before and after is remembered by Héctor Schmucler, and that of the 60s by Guillermo de Carli, recalling an episode from his teens.

University Protests 1958: La república perdida (Miguel Pérez)
1955: Work in progress (Martín Ernesto Mozé), and La hora de los hornos (Fernando Solanas)
Aramburu: Como murió Aramburu (YouTube); Montoneros (Andres di Tella)
Cuba: The Long Road (Michael Chanan); Che hoy y siempre (Pedro Chaskel); Un foto recorre al mundo (Pedro Chaskel)

3 – The Cordobazo

The Cordobazo of 1969 is seen from two perspectives. Agustín Funes was a union delegate in the car industry involved in a factory occupation which landed him in prison. We meet him at the CDA (Centro de Documentacion Audiovisual), the film archive at the Universidad Nacional de Córdoba, looking at old newsreels to try and identify people in the shots (he himself appears in one of them). Funes was involved in the popular rebellion of 1969 in Córdoba – the Cordobazo – which was witnessed by Ana Mohaded as a young girl from a small town newly arrived in the city to go to school. We meet her in a bar located in what was once a women’s prison, where she herself spent the last of seven years as a political prisoner, following the coup of 1976. Back in Buenos Aires, Clara Kriger remembers her kidnap by security forces a few weeks after the coup.

Cordobazo: CDA, Identidades en contexto (Silvia Romano)

4 – Stories of the Cold War

Schmucler and Cosakov exchange remarks about the Cold War as the universal context of both military dictatorship and guerrilla warfare in Latin America. In Santiago, Luis Mariano Rendón speaks of how this affected Chile, and Ignacio Agüero remembers the political mood of his boyhood in the 60s; both of them mention the role of the CIA. Rendón is one of several people with vivid memories of the coup against the Popular Unity government of Salvador Allende, at different ages, the youngest being only two years old at the time.

Peron: CDA
Chile: La Spirale (Armand Mattelart et.a;.); Himno de la Unidad Popular (Joaquín Pavez Pinto/YouTube)

5 – Montoneros

Pablo Schmucler – Héctor’s son – remembers the rise of the Montoneros, which he joined as a schoolboy in the early 70s along with his older brother, Pablo, who later disappeared. Here again the perspective is doubled, as Héctor adds his own fatherly recollections.

Montoneros (Andrés di Tella): Canción de Mariano (Sergio Schmucler); La república perdida ((Miguel Pérez)

6 – Divided Generations

In Santiago, Jorge Hidalgo Vargas remembers joining political protests in the 1980s, for which the archives hold a new kind of material in the form of what is now called activist video, like Por la vida (‘For Life’) and Somos más (‘We are More’) included here. Renato Dennis remembers growing up in a popular neighbourhood amid the sounds of protest and the smell of tear gas. Students today in occupation of their school remark that they’re not taught about either Popular Unity or the dictatorship and have to find out for themselves. Dafne Concha and Rodrigo Tossi are concerned about what the latter calls ‘a veil between the generations’, and the reticence of parents and old folk in talking about what they went through.

Chile: Por la vida (Pedro Chaskel), Somos más (Pedro Chaskel and Pablo Salas); Three Short Films about Chile (Michael Chanan); Irrupción ilegal de de Fuerzas Especiales en Toma de Casa Central, U. de Chile (YouTube)

7 – Psychoanalysis under Dictatorship

Héctor Schmucler observes that ‘memory comes before history’: ‘That’s how it is in mythology. Mnemosyne is the mother of Clio.  Memory creates the space in which history works.’ Juan Carlos Volnovich talks about the problem of trauma, where memory ‘gives account of something, reveals something and hides something at the same time’. Clara Kriger speaks with extraordinary frankness about her internal struggle to come to terms with what had happened to her, an example of what Volnovich calls the victim’s strategy of survival. In Chile, Mara Sabrovsky describes her investigation into the problems of psychoanalysis under the dictatorship.

8 – Justice

In Córdoba, a demonstration commemorates the victims of state terrorism, and a piece of street theatre satirises the administration of justice. In Chile, Luis Parra speaks of the failure of the post-dictatorship state to bring the perpetrators to justice. Ana Mohaded argues that memory remains a field of dispute in which ‘whatever is said about what happened comes from a political position in the present.’ Héctor Schmucler considers the relation of memory to the proofs of history, arguing that people may not agree with the motives of the guerrillas but that doesn’t stop them being victims, whose treatment, as Mohaded says, was outside the law, and their human rights denied them .

Miguel Angel Mozé: CDA
Closing credits: El relato gorila (YouTube), Canción de Mariano (Sergio Schmucler), CDA, Por la vida (Pedro Chaskel)


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