The Chilean Building

Sometimes the costs of political conviction are only brought into relief in retrospect. Macarena Aguiló’s fascinating first-person documentary chronicles the fate of broken leftist families during Pinochet’s reign. Thanks to anti-revolutionary tactics that stooped to the level of infant abduction, many dissidents relocated to Europe during the 1970s. Those who returned to Chile to foment regime change were loath to further endanger their children. Their solution was “Project Home,” a head-spinning conflation of utopianism and abandonment in which an ad hoc community of 60 temporarily orphaned children, whose parents were off fighting in their homeland, were raised by 20 unrelated adults. Started in Paris, relocated to Belgium and then to Cuba, the kiddie commune turned into something both exceptional and normalized, idyllic and tragic. As interviewed by Aguiló—who grew up in Project Home—its now-grown inhabitants remember longing for their parents but also recall the 24/7 camaraderie and trickled-down sense of purpose. Even as schoolchildren they had come to accept sacrifice and adapted to this radical redefinition of family. Alas, it’s those responsible for Project Home who struggle to reconcile with it. Several decades removed from failed revolution, the parents are left to mourn the years that can’t be reclaimed and reconsider the scales of conflicting duties. Eric Hynes

 
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