At the heart of historical trauma: Cordillera of Dreams opens 15th Pravo Ljudski Film Festival

State Funeral by Sergei Loznitsa, uses the power of archival footage to warn us of the ghosts of totalitarianism that haunts us to this day

15th Pravo Ljudski Film Festival opens with the best documentary film of the Cannes festival – The Cordillera of Dreams by Chilean director Patricio Guzmán. This film completes his 'trilogy' that explores the societal, historical, and political traumas of his homeland. 


Guzmán's work is already well known to our audience: Pearl Button was shown on PLJFF in 2017, Nostalghia of the Light closed the 6th edition. Discussion on the topic of missing persons that followed was the longest ever discussion in the history of the festival.


The basis of The Cordillera of Dreams is a collection of memories of the military coup d'etat from 1973. The legacy of these events is manifested in historical trauma, in the leftovers of the Pinochet regime, and brutal neoliberalism that cemented class division in the country. The visual motif that connects these memories are the magnificent Andes that at the same time protect and isolate Chile. Guzmán sees over the mountain horizon, not merely reminiscing on the horror of the dictatorship, or giving a simple diagnosis of the current state. No, during his conversations with Chilean artists, he is perpetually looking for new possibilities of resistance.


The closing film of this year's festival is a work by another PLJFF collaborator from previous years: Sergei Loznitsa. State Funeral is another look to the past, to the event that defined the epoch, and possibly ended it: the death of Stalin.


- I see this film as a visual study of the nature of Stalin’s personality cult and an attempt to deconstruct the ritual, which formed the foundation of the bloody regime. It is unthinkable that today, in Moscow circa 2019, 66 years after Stalin’s death, thousands of people gather at his tomb on March 5th, to lay flowers and mourn his death. I believe it’s my duty as a filmmaker to employ the power of a documentary image to appeal to the minds of my contemporaries, and to seek the truth, writes Loznitsa in the director’s note.


State Funeral uses mostly unseen archival footage and represents „The Great Farewell“ to the dictator as a peak of the personality cult. At the same time, the film deconstructs it as a terror-induced illusion, showing us the inner workings of the regime that haunts us to this day.


All the films of 15th PLJFF will be available on our web platform from November 25th. Program details will be published in the following days.

Pravo Ljudski Film Festival