Juan Downey (1940-1993)
The Motherland (1986)
1986, 7:04 min, color, sound
The Motherland is an ironic parable of Downey's native Chile. Returning to Santiago, he finds a society in the grips of the military dictatorship of General August Pinochet. In a scenario that suggests the "magic realism" of Latin American fiction, Downey visits the suburban house of his youth and stages a surreal re-enactment of the Motherland "giving birth" to a duck, while the crucified Prophet looks on. This overtly symbolic scene is intercut with the spectacle of General Pinochet and his troops in full regalia. In an unsparing indictment of the economic and political reality of the dictatorship, The Motherland offers the Prophet as a sacrifice to the goose-stepping ranks of Pinochet's junta. This savage allegory, in which church and state conspire to oppress society and the individual, merges the subjective and the cultural, the autobiographical and the political.
With: Maria Isabel Donoso, Felipe Landea. Associate Producer: Carlos Puccio. Engineer: Rick Feist. Produced in association with New Television WGBH/WNET.