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By Patricio Guzman

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On Tuesday, September 22, 1998, General Augusto Pinochet flew to London on a pleasure trip.  He rested for a few days.  He had tea with Margaret Thatcher.  He had every intention of visiting Paris.  But, suddenly, he began experiencing back pain and underwent an operation in the London Clinic.  Upon waking from surgery, he was arrested by the police.  Who was responsible for this ?


Two years before Pinochet boarded that plane, Carlos Castresana, a young prosecutor in Madrid, discovered an article allowing Spanish justice to act in any country where crimes of genocide, terrorism or torture were committed.  Spurred by a basic desire for justice, the prosecutor filed charges against the Argentine military and Pinochet.  Judge Baltasar Garzón upheld the charges.  The legal machinery sprang into action.  Hundreds of Chilean victims arrived in Madrid to testify in front of the judge.  Most of them were women, relatives of the “disappeared”, ex-prisoners that had suffered all kinds of torture and interrogation in secret prisons.  Attorneys presented the judge with thousands of documents collected by the Catholic Church during the 17-year dictatorship.  Judge Garzón immediately issued a warrant for Pinochet’s arrest, from Madrid, that was served by Scotland Yard much to the surprise of the entire world.

Then, the Spanish formally requested the extradition of the ex-dictator to Madrid and later the House of Lords divested him of his immunity.  The General spent 503 days under house arrest on an estate outside of London until Blair’s government released him on grounds of ill health.

Nevertheless, when Pinochet arrived in Chile he faced numerous accusations of crimes that had been committed.  200 complaints had been compiled in his absence.  After innumerable tugs of war, the Supreme Court stripped him of his parliamentary immunity.  Finally, on January 29, 2001, Judge Juan Guzmán placed Augusto Pinochet under house arrest.  The people were no longer afraid and the Chilean justice system had made up for lost time.

A coproduction Les Films de la Passerelle, Les Films d'Ici, Pathé Télévision, Renn Productions, Les Films de la Passerelle, RTBF., Benece Paco Poch, Patricio Guzmán Producciones. In association with Nueva Imagen, The Documentary Found- Open Society Institute. with the participation of Canal + France, Canal + Espagne, Canal + Belgique, Telepiù, La Communauté Française de Belgique, Instituto de las Ciencas y las Artes Audiovisuales (ICAA), Le Centre National de la Cinématographie.

Technical sheet
Year: 2001
Duration: 109'
Screenplay & Direction: Patricio Guzman
Production assistant: Camila Guzman
Cinematography: Jacques Bouquin
Sound: André Rigaut
Mixing: Jean-Jacques Quinet

Editing: Claudio Martinez
Yves Jeanneau - Les Films d'Ici
Christine Pireaux - Les Films de la Passerelle

Festival selections (6)
Marseille International Documentary Festival
Premiere, Critics' Week, 2001 Cannes Film Festival
Fiction du Réel
San Francisco International Film Festival
Amnesty International Film Festival
Seattle International Film Festival
Awards (4)

Grand prize at the Marseille International Documentary Festival
Award of Merit in Film, Latin American Studies Association
Grand Prize, 2001 Fiction du Reel (Marseille, France)
Golden Gate Award for Best Documentary San Francisco
International Film Festival


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