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Spectral Cinema and Contested Landscapes
  • ISSN: 2045-6298
  • E-ISSN: 2045-6301

Abstract

This article considers the haunting presence of the Pacific Ocean in two films about Southern Chile that respond to the aftermath of the Pinochet dictatorship (1973–90). I build from the premise that the heterogeneous materiality of landscapes can provoke reflection on multiple entangled histories, memories and hauntings, potentially enabling a counter-hegemonic form of historiography. Water itself is rarely analysed as ghostly matter. Its liquid materiality resists the emplacing of memorials or the accumulation of human-made debris. And yet, in the documentary () (2015) and the narrative film (The Frontier) (1991), water is the agglutinating presence that places different pasts in dialogue. Through my analysis, I explore the films’ engagement with the complex temporalities and cultural connotations of the ocean in Southern Chile – the cyclical movement of tides, the inevitability of catastrophic tsunamis and the enduring currents between islands that are invisible to the tourist gaze. I argue that in engaging with these temporalities, the films open alternate ways of thinking about time, history, truth and justice in the Chilean ‘transition to democracy’. This disruption makes room for histories of Indigenous survival, transnational solidarity, natural disaster and ecological destruction that are often absent or erased from postdictatorship memory culture.

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2024-02-29
2024-06-14
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