THE INCONCEIVABLE: SOCIALIST REALISM
Let us imagine that a lost manuscript by Jorge Luis Borges from 1950 entitled “On the insult in the art of the moving image” had been found a few months ago among the forgotten pages of the author in the house of a friend in Geneva. Such a find would be reason for celebration; the fanfare would not only fall upon the people of Argentina, but also upon all those who value literature as a triumph of the spirit in the very face of human survival, who believe that a life without novels or poems or essays would not be very different from a way of life devoid of all those things that define our way of being in this world.
Who would not be willing to contribute economic resources for editing this lost work? Any man or woman and, moreover, any minister or secretary of Culture of any country would make the effort to obtain the resources for making this publication possible. Is that not the truth? Is there need for explanation?
The filmmaker Raúl Ruiz is to the cinema what Borges is to world literature: a miracle from the south, a phenomenon that uplifts the spiritual life of a people and a horizon whose contemporaries see as a kind of pinnacle of the culture of a nation. Without a doubt, they were geniuses, but their obvious brilliance was never divested from the countries in which they learned to think and feel, or to film and write. Neither for Borges nor for Ruiz were the fortunes of their respective nations alien to them.
That the various offices that provide funding for Chilean filmmakers has denied economic assistance to Valeria Sarmiento and her team to complete El realism socialista (Socialist Realism), that film that was never seen as it should be, that never knew its final form, is completely inacceptable. It is a scandal!
Something like this should not happen, and it is even worse that not even death managed to lavish upon Ruiz the respect that he deserves. It is terribly unacceptable that something like this could happen, though neither is it truly a surprise. The contempt for the highest reaches of the spirit is an oft repeated gesture by those who bear power and decide, almost always, upon those parties who will be funded for the creation of culture and artistic works of which they themselves are ignorant or barely value.
We hope that the various government offices of Chile will change this decision. We – Chileans, Argentines, the French, Germans, Chinese, Taiwanese and even the inhabitants of Andromeda – will all be happy to know that El realismo socialista will finally be known as it was meant to be. This would be an act of common sense in the service of lucidity. This would be an act of kindness in the name of the very freedom that Ruiz knew to honor in each shot that he filmed and with each word he spoke.
Roger Koza / Copyleft 2021