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Navigating Politics and Morality: the Compelling Story Through Pinochet’s Chile

Chile ‘76 (1976)


Genre: Drama
Year Released: 2023
Runtime: 1h 35m
Director(s): Manuela Martelli
Writer(s): Manuela Martelli
Cast: Aline Küppenheim, Nicolás Sepúlveda, Hugo Medina, Alejandro Goic, Carmen Gloria, Antonia Zegers, Marcial Tagle, Amalia Kassai, Gabriel Urzúa
Language: Spanish with English subtitles
Where To Watch: opens theatrically on May 5 at Film at Lincoln Center, IFC Center in NY, and May 12 at Laemmle Theaters in LA, followed by national expansion. April 7 Walter Reade Theater, April 9, 2023, MoMA Titus 2 and more at

RAVING REVIEW: CHILE '76 transports us into the lives of the Chilean middle class during Augusto Pinochet’s brutal dictatorship in the late seventies. Manuela Martelli's directorial debut offers a dynamic look that navigates the era's complex political landscape while providing a personal tale of a woman grappling with her moral compass.

Enter Carmen, played to perfection by Aline Küppenheim, a woman who unexpectedly finds herself in the thick of political activism. Her life spirals into danger when she decides to care for a young man linked to the Chilean opposition, jeopardizing her family's safety. By focusing on one individual's inner turmoil; the film provides a fresh, thought-provoking perspective for the audience to experience.

Martelli's attention to detail in scriptwriting and actor collaboration shines through in the final product. I can see the passion that was put on screen. The strong supporting cast lends depth and authenticity to the movie's dramatic arc, fully immersing viewers in 1970s Chile. A fusion of thriller, political drama, and atmospheric storytelling, CHILE '76 showcases Martelli's ability to mix Carmen's emotional and political journey into a portrait of the Chilean middle class during these tumultuous times.

The film’s visuals capture Chilean landscapes and architecture, contrasting nature's beauty with the grim political reality. The subtle color and lighting techniques heighten the film's mood and ambiance. CHILE '76 is a bold and visionary film highlighting the impact of understated political cinema. The director's meticulous attention to detail, replicating Chile's world during this period, bolsters the film's authenticity.

This was a bit of a struggle for me; between pacing and the story of the film skipping around, it just didn’t connect to me on the level I wanted. This is more of a personal complaint than anything against the film. Overall, I still enjoyed the idea of the film and the unique perspective from which this story was told.

In summary, CHILE '76 is a powerful film that presents a fresh outlook on 1970s Chile's turbulent political landscape. Manuela Martelli's directorial debut shows her artistic talent and vision and offers those searching for a poignant and gripping cinematic experience.

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[photo courtesy of KINO LORBER]