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Sep 15, 2013 at 7:30 pm

Under Construction

With Ignacio Agüero and Jose Miguel Palacios

This program is presented in collaboration with Columbia Global Centers: Latin America, Santiago, and CLACS (Center for Latin American and Caribbean Studies), NYU. This screening is made possible thanks to the support of Icarus Films.

“The omnipresent camera does not judge; it looks. It doesn’t waste time in preconceived discourses. The camera draws a new discourse, unexpected even for the director. I value Aguero’s disposition to allow himself to be surprised during the making of the film.”–Francisco Mouat, Pontifical Catholic University of Chile

“With an almost anthropological, nostalgic, and sometimes humorous gaze, Under Construction is the best Chilean documentary of the new century.”–Joel Poblete, Film Critic, Mabuse Magazine

Under Construction, Directed by Ignacio Agüero

77 minutes | Chile | 2000 | digital projection

In the Providencia Barrio of Santiago, Chile, a neighbor lives through the demolition of the house next door and the construction of a building in the same place, over a two-year period. Under Construction is about the passing of time and the transformation of a space where minor and major events occur: a death and a birth; neighborhoods disappearing; buildings being demolished and built; winters and springs passing.

In the end, when the building is finished, the protagonist looks up at his new neighbors, while they look down at him from their balcony: evidence of a space (and a past) that they now control.

This documentary by Ignacio Agüero, one of the greatest filmmakers to have emerged in Latin America in the past 30 years, is a cornerstone for understanding today’s democratic Chile and the reverberations of the neoliberal model established during the dictatorship of General Augusto Pinochet. In a consumerist era in which everything is destroyed and replaced, Aguero’s gaze takes the stance of an anonymous war correspondent in an undeclared war where the battlefield is the city and its inhabitants never learn about the destruction of their past. Over a number of years, this intimate documentary builds a portrait of a neighbor who observes the demolition of the house next door and the construction of a building on the same site, creating an illuminating account of what development and modernization mean for a country. Considered one of the most important films in the history of Chilean cinema, it captures the devastating and revealing passage of time, subtly piecing together a puzzle about the impact of urban change.


ignacioIgnacio Agüero is an award-winning Chilean filmmaker, writer, and producer. He has also acted in films, including some directed by Raul Ruiz. Agüero was one of the directors of the 1988 “No” political television advertisements that contributed to the end of Pinochet’s reign. He served as the first president of the Documentary Filmmaker’s Association of Chile, of which he is a founding member. Retrospectives of Agüero’s body of work have been held in Santiago, Lima, and the prestigious Buenos Aires International Independent Film Festival (BAFICI).

photo-JoseJosé Miguel Palacios is a PhD Candidate in the Department of Cinema Studies at New York University. He holds an M.A. in Film Studies from Columbia University and a B.A. in Film & TV from Universidad Uniacc in Chile. He is currently working on a dissertation on Chilean exile cinema, studying the films produced throughout the world by Chilean exiles between 1973 and 1990. His writing has appeared in Revista de Comunicación y Medios, Cuadernos de la Cineteca Nacional, La Fuga, The Brooklyn Rail, and Artishock. Recently he wrote 9/11/1973: The Public Life of an Endless Day, published by Texte und Töne in September 2013. His essay “Residual Images and Political Time” is forthcoming in the collection New Documentaries in Latin America, edited by Vinicius Navarro and Juan Carlos Rodríguez (Palgrave, 2014).

New York-based Cinema Tropical (CT) is the leading presenter of Latin American cinema in the U.S. Founded in 2001 with the mission of distributing, programming and promoting what was to become the biggest boom of Latin American cinema in decades, CT brought U.S. audiences some of the first screening of films such as Amores Perros and Y Tu Mamá También. Through a diversity of programs and initiatives, CT is thriving as a dynamic and groundbreaking 501(c)(3) non-profit media arts organization experimenting in the creation of better and more effective strategies for the distribution and exhibition of foreign cinema in this country.


Sep 15, 2013
7:30 pm – 10:00 pm

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