Filmmaker Profile: Quique Cruz, ARCHEOLOGY OF MEMORY: Villa Grimaldi

Posted on September 30, 2009

ARCHEOLOGY OF MEMORY: Villa Grimaldi airs on October 11 at 10:00 PM on Global Voices on PBS WORLD (check local listings). The film follows exiled Chilean musician Quique Cruz from the Bay Area to Chile and back as he creates his master work––a multimedia art piece to heal his wounds inflicted by state-sponsored torture of the Pinochet regime. Beyond the Box recently caught up with Cruz to discuss the film and its international success.

ARCHEOLOGY OF MEMORY has had showings throughout the world, especially in South America. The film has evolved into an installation, a musical suite and a cleansing process for those involved in its production. But that wasn't the plan originally. Cruz's original idea was to make a documentary film about folk musician Victor Jara, but Jara's widow was not ready to release his information. 

At the time of fundraising, around 2005, Cruz had the opportunity to go to Chile for research, so he decided to document his own process. Around that time he met Marilyn Mulford through La Peña Cultural Center in Berkeley, California. Mulford, a seasoned filmmaker, immediately became absorbed in the project and suggested switching the focus of the film to Cruz's experience. After much trepidation, Cruz embraced the idea and so the concept of ARCHEOLOGY OF MEMORY was born. Cruz adds that Mulford’s involvement brought the film to the next level. Thanks to her work, the film was funded through the ITVS Open Call initiative in 2006 and was completed in 2008. 

The film’s success in Chile today was to be expected, but its avenues to success were less predictable. As described by Cruz, Chile’s theaters are currently facing challenging times and many have closed. Some blame the success of DVDs for the dire state of the movie theater industry. But this situation has brought the resurgence of Barrio screenings, mobile theaters that tour small towns. Through these types of screenings, ARCHEOLOGY OF MEMORY will find new audiences right in their own backyards. Cruz continues to work on different projects, fusing elements of jazz, blues and rock into his folk music background. A narrative film version of his book Autobiography of an Ex-Chess Player is in the works. 

A documentary exploring the movement of the Nueva Canción Chilena is also currently in pre-production. As he describes it, “An artist’s work is never done.” When asked about his reaction to the attention ARCHEOLOGY OF MEMORY has received, Cruz has mixed feelings. “On the one hand, there is a sense of nakedness or vulnerability when asked to tell such a personal story in the mass media, a necessary obstacle to overcome,” Cruz explains. On the other hand, he adds, audiences become familiar with that part of his personal history, and at times he feels “pigeon-holed” into the stereotype of a torture survivor. Ultimately, Cruz wants to remind audiences that his story is not a story of an individual, but the story of a generation. The artistic movement that followed such a dark chapter in Chilean history, says Cruz, is a result of politics—a dichotomy of aesthetics and terror, a juxtaposition of pain and beauty. And like the larger movement, ARCHEOLOGY OF MEMORY is both product and reflection of these opposing forces. 

Learn more about the upcoming broadcast on Global Voices on PBS WORLD >>


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