I feel that one of the most important contributions that I have to offer to the discussion about memory, torture, the relationship between terror and aesthetics, political violence, and survival, is to pick up the pieces and try to assemble the dark puzzle that is the legacy of the dictatorial period.
This beautifully crafted, poignant, and timely documentary explores the power of art to heal the trauma of torture. The film follows exiled Chilean musician Quique Cruz from the San Francisco Bay Area to Chile and back as he creates a multimedia installation and musical suite in an effort to heal the emotional wounds inflicted on him by the state-sponsored torture of the Pinochet regime.
Utilizing an innovative and compelling blend of documentary, performance, and interview sequences, Archeology of Memory accompanies Cruz as he visits former concentration camp sites and ruins and talks to his mother for the first time in 30 years about his Disappearance and incarceration. To give added depth to his story, he seeks out and receives testimony from other artists who were tortured in Chile. In these intimate conversations writer Nubia Becker, poet Anita Moreira, and painter Guillermo Nuñez relate their cruel experiences as political prisoners and show how their art has helped each to transcend their trauma.
The film’s musical score is an intricate element of its emotional resonance with viewers. The narrative follows the development of Cruz’s musical suite as he remembers his Disappearance, torture, and exile. His memories span the years from Salvador Allende’s Chile through the dark era following the U.S.-backed coup led by General Augusto Pinochet and right up to the present. The story climaxes at the infamous former Villa Grimaldi torture site in 2006, with the dedication by current Chilean President Michelle Bachelet of a theater where Cruz performs his suite for an audience of thousands at the place where he was once incarcerated and tortured.
This unforgettably powerful and engaging film opens a vital window of understanding on the repercussions of state-sponsored torture and disappearance of political prisoners. Many victims of torture want only to forget the past in order to live in the present. Because of this need to forget, their stories are often never disclosed, and the process of healing for them, their families, and their communities may be delayed for decades or even generations.
Archeology of Memory: Villa Grimaldi will help bring transparency to this timely topic and provide a riveting context for thought, analysis, and discussion in a wide variety of courses in Latin and South American studies, human rights, Third-World studies, cultural anthropology, and the arts and music. The film is a co-production of Interfaze Educational Productions and the Independent Television Services (ITVS), in association with Latino Public Broadcasting (LPB), with funding provided by the Corporation for Public Broadcasting (CPB). It is a film by Quique Cruz and Marilyn Mulford. It is in English and Spanish with English subtitles and English closed-captions. The DVD was fully authored by the producers.