Beyond an Image

in 17th Rio de Janeiro International Film Festival

by Ricardo Cota

It is possible that Beyond My Grandfather Allende (Allende mi abuelo Allende) was not the best documentary presented at the Rio de Janeiro International Film Festival. However, it was surely the most unique. With its intimate portrait, the film resembles a diary.

The filmmaker is Marcia A Timbutti, Salvador Allende’s granddaughter, who has decided to stir up her family’s memories – a taboo for all the younger family members. Timbutti’s late grandmother, Hortensia Busi de Allende, was in her nineties when the documentary was shot. Through Hortensia, Marcia explores a more humane side of her grandfather, finding out what he was like during his leisure time as opposed to the myth printed on posters. Salvador comes across as ordinary, playful and fraternal in his home life and with people he felt close to. In Hortensia’s moving testimony, he is also described as a seducer and womanizer. Timbutti conducts the interview with her grandmother and other relatives with tenderness and delicacy, touching on both love and politics.

The depiction of the grandfather contrasts with the exploration of how dictatorial violence can destroy memories, since the family is traumatized by the suicide of Salvador Allende and one of his daughters. This film illustrates the unbreakable relationship between love and freedom, the key to understanding a tragic moment in Latin American history.

Edited by Lesley Chow