Chile comes to Newcastle: Nae Pasaran at the Tyneside Cinema

I’ve been in the Tyneside Cinema bar and cafe a few times since my return, but have been keen to actually start going to see films there again, and a screening of Nae Pasaran seemed a good opportunity to start. A documentary about the solidarity between Glasgow workers and Chilean citizens post-Pinochet’s coup, it hit a number of my sweet spots: working class stories, Glasgow (I miss you guys!), smart documentaries, and Chile – a subject I became interested in when I did some of the subtitling on Adrian Goycoolea’s fascinating film Viva Chile Mierda, which looks at the coup and its aftereffects through the lens of how it affected his extended family.

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It was a sold-out screening in one of the smaller screens I hadn’t been in before, the Roxy (hell, which didn’t even exist when I last went), and was attended by the director Felipe Bustos Sierra (with a Q&A I skipped out of – I can’t take one more ‘well, it’s more a comment than a question’ moment at one of these things, charming as the director himself seemed.) The film itself, based on the Scottish ‘blacking’ of Hawker Hunter jet engines at their East Kilbride factory so the Chilean military couldn’t use them against their own people, was a joy – passionate, funny, moving, humbling, and with a social message that is still as relevant, if not more so, now as it was then. Both the Scotsmen and the Chileans were dignified, wry and fascinating, and there were some real ‘I have something in my eye’ moments.

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I didn’t love the almost total lack of female voices in the film – I get that it was, primarily, about working men, but feel like there could have been more commentary from either the women affected in Scotland (the spouses of men who were risking their livelihoods / faced potential violence for a stance they didn’t know would have any impact) or in Chile, since women tend to be at the sharp end of any political struggle, albeit often in unacknowledged roles, and it would have been nice to hear a little more from those voices.

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But that aside, it’s genuinely worth your time and money – see it if it comes anywhere near you. (And do check out Adrian’s rather more female-populated film, if you fancy: it’s fascinating and free to watch at this link.)

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