While the London riots have been making headlines, the recent political turmoil in Chile has gone largely unnoticed by American media. Street protests, led by thousands of high school and university students, have resulted in violent confrontations with the police that have exposed deep social rifts. The scenes bring back memories of demonstrations held decades ago under the rule of dictator Augusto Pinochet – and they are sobering reminders that Pinochet’s influence on present-day Chile is still very real.

In light of these events, The Death of Pinochet (screening at Latinbeat) by Bettina Perut and Ivan Osnovikoff is a fascinating look at the man’s legacy. The directors describe the film as “a sarcastic chronicle of the death and funerals of the former Chilean dictator” Augusto Pinochet, who despite committing countless human rights atrocities still has many faithful followers. For Marcela Goglio, co-programmer of Latinbeat, the film “is a portrait of Pinochet’s admirers… the film takes it all to an extreme aesthetically, with extreme closeups catching the adoring words. It’s very stylized.”

Perut and Osnovikoff are an Italian/Chilean duo who have been pushing the limits of documentaries since they started working together in the late ‘90s. Writing about their work, critic Fernando Chiappussi observed that “in recent years, the two filmmakers have ventured on more complex procedures, departing from the classic notion of documentary cinema (a term that’s probably too small for them) while maintaining their search for every single detail… many stories speak of a truth hard to admit: that a great part of the Chilean population still justifies the dictatorship.”

Latinbeat, New York City’s oldest festival dedicated to cinema from across Latin America, is entering its second week at the Film Society. This year’s lineup includes several undiscovered gems that have stayed off the festival circuit yet provide timely and artistically accomplished windows into contemporary Latin American societies. The Death of Pinochet will have its second and final screening tomorrow (Wednesday), August 17 at 7pm followed by a Q&A with the directors – get your tickets now!