The Invisible Country

The film The Invisible Country tells the story of how Chilean journalists in the 1980’s sought to challenge Augusto Pinochet’s control over the national media by producing an alternative news program—filmed with U-Matic technology and distributed clandestinely on VHS tapes.…

The Invisible Country

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The film The Invisible Country tells the story of how Chilean journalists in the 1980’s sought to challenge Augusto Pinochet’s control over the national media by producing an alternative news program—filmed with U-Matic technology and distributed clandestinely on VHS tapes. The journalists that produced the Teleanálisis program (from 1984 to 1989) clandestinely documented, edited, reproduced and distributed filmed images of the mass mobilization against the dictatorship. The forty-eight-episode collection of programs is the most comprehensive audiovisual record of the struggle for human rights and democracy in Chile.

The film is an opportunity to think about media and power in a cultural, historical, and political context. Discussions about media cannot take place in the abstract, where “mainstream” or “undemocratic” or “corporate” media clashes with “alternative” or “democratic” or “resistance” media without first considering local and tangible contexts—in this case, Chile during the dictatorship of Augusto Pinochet.

Media played a significant role during this period. The regime itself understood the power of television to secure authoritarian rule—it helped to make invisible a significant part of the population and aided the process of normalization with respect to the radical restructuring of the economy and the reformulation of Chilean culture more generally. At the same time, the use of a newly introduced media technology (U-Matic video) by the opposition became a counter-hegemonic force that contributed to the protest movement against Pinochet.

However, the use of media would also become central in the transitional process that marked the end of the authoritarian period and the beginning of a “semi-sovereign” democracy. This diachronic dimension of the impact of media must also be considered closely, as it is often the case that yesterday’s media resistance becomes today’s media status quo.

A post-screening discussion can help inspire further discussion and research on the use of media and its role as a controlling process on the one hand and as a counter-hegemonic tool for human rights and democracy on the other.

Después de 10 años de miedo y silencio, el pueblo Chileno empieza a salir a las calles y protestar en contra de la dictadura de Augusto Pinochet. Un grupo de periodistas de la revista Análisis, con la ayuda de un técnico y un teórico audiovisual, ambos comprometidos con la lucha por la libertad, deciden desarrollar un medio alternativo en video U-Matic con el objetivo de registrar el movimiento social en las calles, y así poder mostrar clandestinamente lo que los medios oficiales ligados a la dictadura no muestran. La idea era que, con las imágenes de Teleanálisis, los Chilenos se podían dar cuenta que había una movilización esperanzadora, capaz de paralizar la institucionalidad del régimen militar, y así generar el espacio y el estímulo para sumarse a la tarea de poner fin a la dictadura. País Invisible cuenta la historia de como surgió este proyecto, pero también explora el registro audiovisual y las experiencias relatadas por dos generaciones de participantes.

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