LFF Review: 1976

In 1973, President Salvador Allende’s left-wing political alliance was overthrown by a military coupe d’état. This followed a period of social unrest and political turmoil. Led by General Augusto Pinochet, a group of military chiefs took control and formed a junta. Ending a period of relative stability when Chile was hailed as an example of how democracy could work in South America. 1976 looks at where the country is a few years into this dictatorship.

While her husband (Alejandro Goic) is working as a doctor at a hospital in Santiago, Carmen (Aline Küppenheim) has travelled to the coast to oversee renovations on her family’s summer home. When she’s approached by a local priest (Hugo Medina) to treat an injured ‘common criminal’ (Nicolás Sepúlveda) the former Red Cross nurse feels duty bound to help. However, it soon becomes evident that there’s more to this than meets the eye.

1976 is a tense political thriller which transports its lead through a gamut of emotions and increasingly perilous situations. Manuela Martelli’s drama works so well thanks to a great central performance from Küppenheim and a deft handle on the pacing. The tension is gradually ramped up as Carmen’s paranoia grows. Disaster lurks in the shadows, stalking her footsteps. This fear of discovery drives 1976 to its eventual conclusion.

1976 screens at London Film Festival.

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