Nanni Moretti Takes Us to the First 9/11 in “Santiago, Italia”

Santiago, Italia is a documentary by the acclaimed Italian director Nanni Moretti — that audiences know for narrative films such as Caro diario (1993), Aprile (1998), La stanza del figlio (2001), Il caimano (2006), Habemus Papam (2011), Mia madre (2015) — that closed the 36th edition of the Torino Film Festival.

In his new oeuvre, Nanni Moretti gathers the testimonies of people who lived the harrowing  coup d’état of General Augusto Pinochet. September 11 is a tragic date not only in the U.S. On that day of 1973, the death of President Salvador Allende and the “golpe de estado” staged with Washington’s support, marked a tragic moment in history. Chileans remember with pain the way the chief of this country’s armed forces betrayed the democratically elected president of Popular Unity and his people, to whom Pinochet subjected to 17 years of terror, disappearances, torture and murder.

The documentary is thorough in the historical reconstruction. Santiago, Italia is also very touching, in the way its storytelling follows the individual lives of those who suffered the abuses from the military Pinochet regime.

Old footage, the folk music of the Inti-Illimani,  and interviews with the protagonists of this dramatic period, retrace how some Italian diplomats saved many human lives. The Italian embassy in Santiago hosted hundreds and hundreds of asylum seekers.

Hence, Santiago, Italia is an awakening for Italian audiences as it reminds them of a time when they were more compassionate and supportive towards foreigners. During the Seventies, Chilean political refugees were sent to the boot-shaped land that offered them money, clothes, homes, jobs. They became part of the community and enriched it on multiple levels: human, cultural and economic.

Italy’s attitude of just over forty years ago is very different today. Xenophobia rules. A country that was once an example of civilization and humanity, is now governed by racism, and seems to have completely lost its core values of solidarity for the weaker members of society.

Trailer (in Italian)