© Tiberius Film/Filmwelt

Chile/Spain/U.K./France 2004

Opening 31 Mar 2005

Directed by: Andrés Wood
Writing credits: Roberto Brodsky, Mamoun Hassan, Andrés Wood
Principal actors: Matías Quer, Ariel Mateluna, Manuela Martelli, Ernesto Malbran, Aline Küppenheim

The backdrop of this historical drama is based on real events that occurred during Allende’s socialistic presidency and ensuing military dictatorship by Pinochet. Father McEnroe (Ernesto Malbrán) is the priest and director of an elitist private school where a social experiment is underway to integrate underprivileged children from the surrounding shantytowns into the classrooms. Director Andrés Wood actually participated in this experimental educational project as he grew up in Santiago and attended this school. This fabulous film depicts the friendship between Gonzalo Infante (Matias Quer), son of a well-to-do family, and Pedro Machuca (Ariel Mateluna) from the slums across the river. Father McEnroe envisions teaching the children to treat each other with respect as fellow human beings, regardless of social or economic background, but reality amongst the school children, and their parents, proves to be a different story. As the eleven year old boys come into each other’s worlds, they find a way to overcome their differences through friendship and trust. Part of this process is shared by Pedro’s neighbor Silvana (Manuela Martelli), who is older and fiery and leads the boys into the exploration of intimacy. She delivers a brilliant performance as a feisty teenager that fights back with tooth and nail. As nationalists and communists clash, the surrounding country plunges into chaos. These are tumultuous times with food shortages, and people waiting in line on end to obtain basic goods which are actually being stockpiled. On September 11, 1973, there is a military coup and Pinochet takes over, imposing a military regime that proved to be deadly to many. Overnight the illegal shantytown disappears and so does Pedro Machuca. The end is a sobering tragic reality. This is Wood’s fourth film and has been described as “a masterpiece of South American cinema.” (Coppelia Hays Branscheid)

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