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Exile: Burden of Memories


Leuten Rojas


Leuten Rojas


Activism. Chile Diversity Exile History Immigration Politics
  • Release Date 2019
  • Running Time 100 minutes
  • Closed Captions No
  • Availability Canada, USA, World

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Exile: Burden of Memories Exile: Burden of MemoriesExile: Burden of Memories

This documentary is a personal exploration of the lived experiences of exile as told by Chilean women, children and men in Canada and their relatives in Chile. As a refugee himself, the director Leuten Rojas has constructed a moving representation of displacement, uprooting, integration into an adopted country and relationship to the country of origin. The on camera statements of the protagonists are at once personal and communal as they recall their memories of the military coup of September 11, 1973 and how they managed to leave the country and what exile means for them.

Through anecdotes and stories, the protagonists affirm their ongoing political and creative commitment to Chile and how it has shaped their identities as Chilean-Canadians. Since most of these individuals have formed families and raised children who have either grown up or have been born in Canada, the documentary represents how memory is expressed, shared and transferred from generation to generation. The ensuing narrative brings together the diverse effects of exile within the wider context of collective memory. Filmed in Canada and Chile, this documentary was made possible by funding from the Canada Council of the Arts and the Ontario Arts Council, with additional individual contributions.

Director and Producer: Leuten Rojas

Artist's Statement

Since my arrival in Canada as a political refugee in 1974, I have focused my filmmaker career on addressing issues related to social justice in Canada and Latin America, immigration, racism, discrimination, the displacement of people and the dramatic and complex reality of living in exile. Over time, I carefully observed and, at times documented with audiovisual media the life and evolution of my community with he intention of eventually making a film addressing the human drama of exile, what exile means to those who experienced, including myself, and how it is remembered. By 2011, I felt having reached a level of introspection and critical maturity to undertake this project. By then I had witnessed both the negative and positive impact of the condition of exile on individuals and their families, and on the community. I had experienced first-hand the sadness of the death in exile as some of those whom I arrived as a refugee had passed away. I had see the disappointment of those who waited for many years to return to Chile, a place that had over time become more mythological than real, and their subsequent estrangement when the possibility of going back presented itself. They realized that they no longer belonged there, and how waiting for that moment prevented them from living fully and integrating into the host country. Unable to say “now I belong here” and feeling foreigners in both places, they had become ‘homeless.’ I could attest how integration can be reached; to what extent the history and reasons from being in Canada remained vivid and defined individual and collective identities, how memory shapes the reality and meaning of exile, allowing the exile to gain a more universal view on life. More significantly, I had seen how exile became a creative stimulus for exiled artists, how they expressed passionately the meaning of exile in their work. In short, I had witnessed and lived the impact of the condition of exiled persons on all aspects of our lives and how these multiple experiences and memories, at once personal and collective, had been passed on to our families and those we love. (Leuten Rojas, 2011)

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