Dialogues of the Exiles (1975)
Directed by Raúl Ruiz
Ruiz has just been exiled by the military regime funded by Nixon presidency, and he falls into France, alongside a plethora of actors and directors who escaped the savage killing machine that was the Chilean government after Pinochet’s coup. The only way Ruiz can make sense of his situation is to make a film with his friends and fellow exiles, which at the same time closes up his Chilean period and opens up a new era for his cinema in Europe. He films common situations of the exiled in their first months in Paris, as they struggle to settle and adapt, most of them artists or politicians; Ruiz doesn’t make a denunciation (though at times it can be read that way), but a farce, portraying Chileans just as they are, not as martyrs.
Vignettes show the different ways in which the Chileans try to come up with money or a place to spend the night. All of them constantly ask the French government for more money given their status as political refugees. The only way the exiled can survive their situation is to try to live just like they did in Chile, and that’s their main goal: get drunk, live off their art, send letters to newspapers… all of which is told in a way that makes them seem pathetic, but also celebrates their efforts in a country leaning towards the right.
I can’t imagine how this will play for a non-Chilean audience, but Diálogos de Exiliados is one of the funniest and politically sound films of Raúl Ruiz’s career. Jaime Grijalba (December 17, 2pm at the Film Society of Lincoln Center’s Ruiz retrospective)