Linda Stirling Unmasked: The Black Whip

: Dragged from her chariot by a mob of fanatical vigilante Christian monks, the revered astronomer was stripped naked, skinned to her bones with sharp oyster shells, stoned and burned alive as possibly the first executed witch in history. A kind of purge that was apparently big business back then.



Motherhood, Mass Resistance And Children Of Struggle

The Chilean Building [El Edificio De Los Chilenos]

 For women who commit their lives to mass struggle, there is always a choice that men never have to make. Namely to sacrifice the option of motherhood for revolutionary struggle.

But for many of the young women who joined the Revolutionary Left Movement [MIR, Movimiento de Izquierda Revolucionaria] coalition in Chile to rise up against the 1973 bloody repressive coup by General Augusto Pinochet against the Socialist government of Salvador Allende, the choice did not exist.

And as fiercely committed young mothers already fugitives deep into the revolutionary resistance, they were not only torn between the political and personal in ways men never confront. But the parents of these offspring were also faced with the ruthless policy of the CIA-backed Pinochet regime of engaging in the kidnapping of their children as a negotiation tactic to force the surrender of these hunted revolutionaries. Along with the now well documented horrific secret adoptions of those children of the many subsequently slaughtered political martyrs in question.

And the documentary The Chilean Building [El Edificio De Los Chilenos] not only resurrects the simultaneous heartbreaking and inspiring buried history of those children hidden away in other countries by their parents for their safety. But achieves a rare intensity as well, chronicling that turbulent time. Because the filmmaker Macarena Aguilo, just happens to be one of those children back then, who surmounted the enormous challenges of that time.

Kidnapped and disappeared by the CIA when just a preschooler as an unsuccessful bargaining chip to force the surrender of her father in hiding, Macarena was released a month later. But fearful for her future, her father arranged for Macarena to be reunited with her mother already in exile in France. And eventually Macarena joined scores of other politically at-risk Chilean children at a commune set up for them in Havana. Which came to be known as the Chilean Building.

Winner of the Best Documentary at the New York International Latino Film Festival last year, The Chilean Building is an alternately euphoric and solemn collective recollection by many of those young spunky survivors and their parents and fellow comrade guardians, of the 'tremendous invitation' that welcomed them in Cuba. And the unique experience of a society where 'everything Cuba does is for everyone,' and every house belongs to everybody,' in 'a good place for children, because everyone loves them.'

Yet at the same time, the emotionally tragic truth for which neither the children nor parents have been able to achieve closure to this day. Namely, the utopian political dream tasted in Cuba - of a society dissociated from 'consumption, individualism and competition for money.' But necessitating the enormous personal sacrifices of those Chilean parents and children, that in the end left all their lives personally damaged, but bereft of an anticipated legacy that has never been realized in Chile.

The Chilean Building is an impassioned recollection of intimate and collective memory, through difficult testimony, and heartbroken yet politically resolute letters written by parents to their children from afar through those years, and the grown children today who sublimate those traumatic feelings through healing art. Along with moments of tender humor, as when one of them recalls with delight as an only child, being suddenly surrounded by sixty new siblings. And another expressing relief - perhaps regarding his own anticipation of parenthood in a very different, disillusioning world in Chile today - that in the Chilean Building in Cuba, 'I didn't have television to screw up my head.'

And a mother's letter in particular written back then, magnifies and solidifies the sustained resilience of Macarena and those other young hearts and minds:

'Tomorrow you shall begin a path with many other children, and you'll have the loving hands of our comrades to carry you forward. If there's anything I wanted to give you and learn with you, it is to live intensely, to love with your eyes. With a desire to feel and to always move forward, trying to stay true to what we've said. And if I leave you today, it's because that small, honest commitment I gave you urges many of us, hopefully thousands, to go struggle with our comrades in Chile...And that victory shall be for you, for all the children of Chile.'

And no matter what the outcome, in a brokenhearted parent's explanation for the hopefully comprehending mind of a child, it was about a time of 'such monumental craziness, but we tried to do it well. We tried to do everything with our hearts.'

Candid and ironic, replete with raw feelings yet never truly defeatist, The Chilean Building vividly poses solemn questions about the price of struggle, but without ever quite relinquishing political hope. And as one can glean in tentative but miraculous ways as legacy, beyond the scope of this movie, such as in the case of Spanish judge, lawyer, and international jurist, Baltasar Garzón. Who leads the legal team representing Wikileaks and Julian Assange, currently seeking political asylum holed up for months in the Ecuadorian embassy in London, fighting anticipated US prosecution.

Garzón in fact, revolutionized the international justice system two decades ago by issuing an arrest warrant for  Pinochet for crimes against humanity in Chile. For which Pinochet was never in fact brought to justice, but Garzón's actions spearheaded the fight against such impunity in Latin America, and the rest of the world.

The Chilean Building is being released theatrically at The Maysles Cinema in NYC, August 13th through 19th - a Harlem theater devoted to the recognition of documentary film. More information is online at:

Prairie Miller


The Cannes Film Festival Reports

"Are you a war correspondent, or wife in my bed?" - Ernest Hemingway 


Ken Loach, upon winning the Jury Prize at Cannes, for a drama about the struggles of unemployed Glasgow youth: This award signifies that cinema "is not just entertainment, it shows us who we are." 

In the first of a series of on location reports, Annette Insdorf is our correspondent at this year's Cannes Film Festival 2012. We are honored to feature her coverage, which will also include breaking news announcing the winners at the end of the Festival.

Annette Insdorf returns to the Cannes Film Festival, providing coverage of the films and events, May 16-27th. Director of Undergraduate Film Studies at Columbia University, and author of the recently-published Philip Kaufman, she tells us about the most anticipated offerings of the world's most celebrated film festival-from American selections Hemingway & Gellhorn, Moonrise Kingdom and Lawless to European titles from masters Bernardo Bertolucci, Alain Resnais, Michael Haneke and Jacques Audiard. She gives a preview of Sean Penn's benefit for Haiti; the large number of documentaries in the Official Selection; and the question of female representation.


            Ernest Hemingway and Martha Gellhorn

"I hated Vietnam the most, because I felt personally responsible. It was my own country doing this abomination. I am talking about what was done in South Vietnam to the people whom we, supposedly, had come to save. I'm seeing napalmed children in the hospital, seeing old women with a piece of white sulphur burning away inside of them, seeing the destroyed villages, seeing people dropping of hunger and dying in the streets. My complete horror remains with me as a source of grief and anger and shame that surpasses all the others."

Martha Gellhorn, Atlantic Monthly

Professor Insdorf is an internationally renowned educator, and her works are hailed as the definitive texts on their subjects. She has also been a jury member of numerous international film festivals. Professor Insdorf is a member of The Women Film Critics Circle

Reporting from Cannes for over a quarter century, Annette Insdorf previously co-anchored the Festival with Roger Ebert for Bravo and The Independent Film Channel. Her knowledge and insight about cinema, past and present, is a veritable treasure trove of film history and culture. And we're extremely proud to have her as our correspondent reporting from Cannes again this year.

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