SANTIAGO – September, a month full of commemorations in Chile, will end with a series of screenings in the Museo de la Memoria. One of the movies screened will be “Adriana’s Pact”, where director Lissette Orozco attempts to understand her aunt’s role during the dictatorship. In this powerful documentary, Orozco explores her family’s history as well as her country’s.
In order to commemorate September the Museo de la Memoria has been screening a collection of documentaries related to events or persons of interest during Chile’s military dictatorship. Fittingly, the last film presented will be Lissette Orozco’s “Adriana’s Pact,” an emotional and captivating documentary about coming to terms with her family’s involvement in the bloody dictatorship. This screening marks the end of a month-long promotional tour of Chile related to the film’s DVD and Blu-ray release, both of which will be on sale at the Tuesday, Oct. 1 screening at the Museo de la Memoria.
What originally began as a simple college assignment snowballed into “Adriana’s Pact,” Orozco’s first feature film, in which she turns the camera on herself to discover how she herself deals with the accusations that her beloved aunt, Adriana Elcira Rivas González, who had worked as a secret agent during Pinochet’s military dictatorship. With this premise Orozco manages to spin a story that tries to answer the question: How long are you willing to trust your family members?
Commemoration of the coup d’état at the Estadio Nacional on 11 September 2019
— Chile Today News (@ChileTodayNews) September 12, 2019
Her Beloved Aunt’s Secret
Orozco is compelling from the very first scene, in which she tells a little about her own background, the fact that her mother left when she was little, and that she was raised by her father’s family, mostly her aunts and uncles. Then comes the big reveal: her aunt Adriana is currently in custody due to her alleged involvement in Pinochet’s secret police during the military dictatorship.
After this, Orozco runs through a quick history of her aunt and how she ended up working as a secretary in the military. This leads to the present day, with Adriana hiding in Australia and Orozco attempting to clear her name. Orozco interviews historians and her aunt’s own accusers, but as the film progresses her own beliefs and biases are tested by the people she meets, resulting in the documentary shifting focus from Adriana to Orozco.
At the beginning of the film, Orozco explicitly states that her intention is to exonerate her aunt and prove she was wrongfully accused. However, through her own fact-finding journey, she realizes how manipulative her aunt has been, and this ultimately leads to an incredibly powerful climax in which Orozco confronts her aunt. As the emotion of the scene recede, the viewer is left tumbling in its undertow, left to reflect on all that just happened.
Successful Narrative Choices
The documentary is accompanied by Orozco’s own voice over, which offers insights into her thought processes throughout.
The film is also visually effective, telling the story through a variety of means that work well together, including Skype conversations, interviews, archive footage, and old family photos, all of which give it a unique look, a rich texture, and an interesting perspective.
For example, Orozco shipped a small movie camera to her aunt’s apartment in Australia, which captured her aunt’s reaction when the Chilean government attempted to extradite her.
The movie has received worldwide acclaim and special recognition in over seven national and international film festivals.
During a recent Q&A, Orozco talked about the movie and said that what surprised her the most was that its message was universal. She explained how she had screened the movie in Thailand and it ended with the entire theater in tears because of that country’s own notorious history of military dictatorships.
One of the movie’s most poignant truths is that family members are human, and humans are flawed; on a larger scale, the same is true with countries, and in this there might be some comfort, because it means we are not alone.
Diego Rivera is currently a senior in University, finishing up his audiovisual degree. You can find him on Twitter as @Piover45.