★★★★ Film review: Interrupted Memory – Arts London News

Published on January 30, 2014 | by Taryn Nixon


Film review: Interrupted Memory


Michael Chanan at the screening of his new documentary Interrupted Memory in London

Chanan filmed his entire documentary with a small hand held camera [Bethe Dabbs]

In Argentina, a man remembers being taken to a demonstration by his parents at the age of five or six; they marched through the streets of Cordoba in support of democracy.

Another woman who features in the film is from a political family; her father was in the military and would take her to Union elections when she was seven, eight and nine.

The 1970s were a very turbulent time for Argentina filled with political repression, human rights violations and the military coups.

Chile was under socialist rule at this time, and the film shows a Chilean woman recalling her father’s release from Pisagua Prison Camp in the 1940s.

Jump forward to August 2013, a group of musicians in Santiago sing and chant “We’re in democracy. The problem is the municipality not the police” in protest at not being allowed to play in the street.

The film is divided into eight chapters: Remembering; Violence; The Cordobaso; Stories of Cold War; The Monteneros; Divided Generations; Psychoanalysis under Dictatorship and finally, Justice.

Interrupted Memory links Chile and Argentina together by relating to the violence and repression shown in the archive clippings that Chanan used.


In chapter two, the audience is brought to Cordoba, Argentina in 1958, where an eight year old Gustavo Cosakov remembers the demonstration on secular universities in the struggle between private and state education. The demonstration turned violent, which is why the memory is so vivid for Cosakov.

Chanan used close ups and eye level camera angles in his documentary which gave it a sense of connection between yourself and the interviewee, making it all the more personal and moving.

One such touching story is that of Clara Kriger, a woman who was captured by the coup d’état.

As a young child, she remembers watching television scenes of the Ongania regime; she was then captured years later at the age of seventeen and held captive for days and tells a horrific story of events.

There are few who manage to tell their story today, for many lives were at the fateful hands of their kidnappers. She is haunted by the last words of her kidnappers – “you don’t leave here twice.”


The final chapters highlight the issues of a generation untold; for many, the ‘war wound’ is still fresh, but most of today’s generation of Chileans have to find out what happened to their ancestors for themselves in textbooks, rather than hearing the tales from their parents and grandparents themselves.

By not having a method, the documentary takes its own course to form an inspiring, moving and authentic piece of work.

Chanan filmed his documentary with a single small hand held camera, with an itinerary but no real filming plan.

He regards Interrupted Memory as the “purest piece of what academia calls ‘research as practice’, because instead of researching and then filming, what I did was effectively film the research.”

By not having a method, the documentary takes its own course to form an inspiring, moving and authentic piece of work.

Interrupted Memory is a must see for anyone interested in South American history and politics, as it shows a problematic issue in a way that has never been explored before.

Interrupted Memory can be viewed here.

NOTE: This article was edited on February 4 to include some of the corrections suggested by the producer in the comments section.

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