Hidden Treasures - «An Exercise of Memory»

Alejandro Areal Vélez and Claudia Sandberg direct Hidden Treasures which is presented today in the section Film on Film.

After the coup d'état against Salvador Allende, on September 11th, 1973, many Chilean artists had to escape to East Germany, where they found refuge from the political persecution which stroke Latin America. DEFA-main film producer in the east side- contracted lots of technicians and authors who started to tell stories about exiled people.

German filmmaker Claudia Sandberg remembers that she has always been interested in the Chilean movies of DEFA and during her trip to Santiago in 2012, Goethe Institute and Chilean Film Archive organized a retrospective. "After the screenings some people asked me: Where can we get the films? We need to show them in our school! These movies made in East Germany had found a second life in Chile", tells Claudia. "In Argentina, I met Alejandro Áreal Velez and I told him the experience. He said to me: We have to make a documentary about this! So Hidden Treasures was born."

What were your expectations before showing the films of DEFA in Chile, Mexico, Argentina and Germany?

Alejandro Áreal Vélez: I think the condition for these films to be "hidden movies" remains somehow the same in Chile. In Argentina, we had two screenings with many people, who felt identified with the films; in Germany, there was a screening in the historic Zeughauskino. Screenings in Mexico took place at universities, where students kept a watchful eye. In the documentary there are some "hidden spectators" , who recreate this: they are former emigrates or a bunch of people who approach a commercial cinema, in a special screening, in the evening, to see what it is about. On the other hand, students of media showed surprise, discomfort, but also curiosity in the presence of stories unknown for them.

Claudia Sandberg:  For me,  the most unexpected reaction was the one of a group of young Chileans, who felt almost insulted because of having seen films with a political opinion very oriented to the left. According to those young people, the films represent only a part of the history. This provoked a division among the students, and this clash was really evident in the cinema where the discussion took place. In Chile, people were always cautious not to say something wrong or offensive. Public debates about human rights violations or even issues like exile are scarce there. People talk, but the society in itself is divided with regard to Pinochet's years, and a consensus does not seem to be reached in the future . The absence of this issue in the public sphere can be felt in the way the new generations discuss about the films of DEFA.


All of them wanted to talk about their experience about being part in the recording of DEFA films. Most of the times their lives in East Germany had much to do with their roles in the film.


Hidden Treasures is the end of a trip or the beginning of a new one in order to continue trying to recover the memory of a frightening time?

AAV: Each spectator evokes different stories: if he or she has lived this time, his or her own experience reemerges. If he or she ignored it, the news brought through these films - and about its concealment- is a reflection about the present. As Marcela López, one of our interviewees, says: "The power of the images is huge."

CS: I hope it will be the beginning of a trip! Our film, apart from investigating about the value of DEFA movies today, shows them as an exercise of memory. We hope these materials do not remain hidden and can be used in classrooms to start debates and give the students an idea, an image of what happened, to think their individual and collective past. 

R.G. Weisskirch


Today, Sat 19  nov - 8.10 P.m. - AMB 3
Sun 20  nov - 2.50 P.m. - AMB 3


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