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An Interview with Uruguayan filmmaker Enrique Buchichio

Written by
Michael Smith
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Enrique Buchichio is a critic-turned-filmmaker and the director of Operation Zanahoria, which recently had its North American premiere at the Chicago Latino Film Festival. I spoke with Buchichio about his new film, a gripping procedural about political secrets and journalistic ethics in the vein of All the President’s Men

Your first film, Leo’s Room, is an affecting story about one person’s coming to terms with his sexual identity but Zanahoria is very different. It’s more about society. Was it a conscious decision to make something more ambitious in terms of scope?

Not really. The story just came out. I read it just before the shooting of Leo’s Room. It was a chronicle about the relationship between two Uruguayan journalists with an anonymous informant from the armed forces. Something just made a click with me about the good material for a movie and, at the same time, the opportunity to approach some of the open wounds from the military dictatorship in Uruguay, which is a very polemic issue there. It’s a very dividing issue in Uruguayan society between the people who believe that there are still things to reveal and to process, and another half of the country who believe that it’s a closed chapter and we have to move on.

Is it controversial to depict that in a film?

Kind of. For me, the interesting thing about the story, which I adapted, is that it’s actually the state of things today in Uruguay—not only 10 years ago when the story took place. Today, it’s the same thing: 10 years after, we are still trying to come to terms with the recent past, with the brutal years and trying to understand what it meant to have a Uruguayan identity. It was a brutal regime, maybe not so brutal as in Argentina—where it had a bigger scale in terms of the “disappeared” political prisoners—but for a small country, it made a huge impact on society.

Did you interview any of the people who were involved?

Yeah. Alfredo and Jorge, the journalists, were my main source of information apart from the article, of course. They told me many small things that they didn’t publish, but made for a richer story: tiny details about the relationship with this guy, how he acted, how he talked, how he smoked, etc.

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