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Pinochet Returns As A Vampire To Astonish The Venice Film Festival

Augusto Pinochet is still alive. He is 250 years old, and he is a vampire.

Impossible. Absurd. It could only happen in El Conde [The Count]. That is, in a movie.

Augusto Pinochet led a dictatorship that, between 1973 and 1990, murdered at least 3,000 citizens, tortured and exiled many more, annihilated the political opposition and denied rights, imposed neoliberalism on his country and stole and embezzled money from the State he swore to protect. And he never went to jail.

Impossible. Absurd. It must be the product of the same film. But everything in the movie comes from the reports and court decisions on which Pablo Larraín based many of the lines in his feature film, which premiered this Thursday at the Venice Film Festival.

In the end, even the dictator’s immortality is partly true. For the filmmaker, Pinochet is still alive in the Constitution he approved, which is still in effect; in the big businessmen who benefited from and defended him; in the legacy of individualism, inequality, “little mutual compassion” and “greed” that has infected his fellow countrymen; in the divisiveness he still causes in Chilean public debate. According to the director, that had never appeared in a feature film before. Perhaps only Larraín could break that taboo. And only he could do it like this. That’s because he is one of Chile’s most respected and celebrated filmmakers. It’s also because the film is part of Larraín’s cinematic journey, which has already addressed Pinochet in No and Post-mortem. Larraín is a visionary and daring talent, so much so that he made a film about pedophile priests, The Club. And now, he is portraying the dictator in a political satire about vampires… and getting away with it, to boot.

“Some will think it’s too soon. But my conscience is clear. The worst thing the film could do would be to fall into trivialization, empathy, simplification. That would be unforgivable. The limit was always to look at him as a symbol of evil, whose actions and intentions sought to do harm,” the filmmaker told EL PAÍS. In fact, Larraín has been thinking about the project for years. One impetus was the advanced age of the actor that he’d always imagined in the role, Jaime Vadell. But the long wait has meant that El Conde is premiering exactly 50 years after the September 11, 1973, coup d’état in which Pinochet bombed the presidential palace in Santiago and forcibly seized power from Salvador Allende. In addition, the film’s debut comes as Chile is experiencing a turbulent political moment due to the possible approval of a new constitution. The film will be shown in select theaters beginning on the 7th of September and premiere on Netflix on the 15th.

The filmmaker — who “joyfully” voted for Chile’s current president, leftist Gabriel Boric — admits that he is unsure about what to expect. He believes there are two unmovable audiences: on the one hand, the dictator’s “sycophants” and, on the other hand, those who believe that a film cannot and should not depict something so serious. Larraín hopes to reach viewers in the middle who are “willing to see a film that shows how unbelievable impunity made Pinochet eternal.” But those who give El Conde a chance will be rewarded with much more: a world, an atmosphere, an intention, a stamp, ambition, intelligent dialogue, beautiful black and white photography. In a nutshell: viewers will be treated to auteur cinema.

Pablo Larraín poses at the 'El Conde' photocall on August 31, 2023, at the Venice Film Festival.

Pablo Larraín poses at the ‘El Conde’ photocall on August 31, 2023, at the Venice Film Festival. CLAUDIO ONORATI (EFE)

Because the film gradually builds a universe as surreal as it is coherent, laughs come with shivers and the farce is steeped in reality. In the film, everything is possible, both the delusions invented by the script and those that really happened. And then there’s a mixture of both: the sequences of a caped Pinochet flying over the country at night in search of prey evoke the daily life that the dictator has never left, as does the character’s enduring love of heart milkshakes. At the same time, as the director emphasizes, the film alludes to the typical iconography of vampires; the character is even a superhero in reverse. And, curiously, the Venice Film Festival happens to be screening three other films that also focus on bloodsuckers. El Conde doesn’t do the other movies any favors, both because of how challenging it is and because of the high bar it sets.

Aware of the sensitivity of the subject matter, Larraín speaks slowly and weighs his words carefully. At one point, he goes back: he said “avarice,” but he prefers the word “greed” instead. And so on. Because, despite the fact that the dictator died on December 10, 2006, Pinochet is everywhere. He was present two days ago in the suicide of Hernán Chacón Soto, 86, one of the seven ex-military men convicted for the murder of singer-songwriter Víctor Jara during the dictatorship. And, of course, he was there in the 2022 failure of the reform to Pinochet’s Constitution, which is now being attempted for a second time, led by a right-wing majority amid the citizenry’s growing distrust and disinterest, according to polls.

‘I killed hundreds of Reds, and they accuse me of stealing’

“They are ungrateful,” the dictator complains in the film. He also laments the insistence of that “Spanish judge” [Baltasar Garzón], who tried so hard to make him pay for his crimes and nearly succeeded. That’s not so different from what the real Pinochet said in 1998, when he had to step down from leading the Chilean armed forces: “Over these past 65 years, no desire has motivated my professional and personal life more forcefully than that of making my dedication to service coincide with the Fatherland’s major objectives and interests.”

“I killed hundreds of Reds, and they accuse me of stealing. That’s how they humiliate me,” Pinochet adds. It’s for that very reason that the vampire has finally decided to die. Nobody understands him anymore, not even his own relatives, who have flocked to him like vultures. They are worried about Dad, of course. But they are more concerned about all the money he will leave behind. Perhaps the plot is the film’s weak spot, both because of its flaws and because of the original idea: it is so good that it swallows everything else up. The other questionable choice is having the narrator’s voice in English: although the script justifies that decision, it suggests a ploy to market the film more easily around the world.

El Conde, película sobre Augusto Pinochet

A still shot from Pablo Larraín’s film ‘El Conde.’ CORTESÍA

And that’s what it’s all about. Last year, right here in Venice, Santiago Mitre’s Argentina, 1985 reckoned with the trial of the Jorge Videla-led military dictatorship. That was the first time that a film dared to narrate that episode. But someone always has to go first, as was the case of filming parodies that imagined the return of Mussolini or Hitler in Italy or Germany. Of course, some countries condemned or repudiated their dictators. Chile did not. “The trauma stems from the lack of justice. If Pinochet had been imprisoned, his legacy would be very different,” Larraín reflects. And he continues: “I was clear on three things. First of all, his character and his violence were non-negotiable. Second, the understanding that one of the most serious things is that his excesses toward savage capitalism also gave rise to a lack of understanding among us. And third, [Pinochet’s] most invisible legacy [is that] 70% of Chileans live on less than €800 [$868.12] a month, [which is] one of the highest rates of inequality on the continent.”

The interview is over, but Larraín asks for a few more minutes. He does not want to leave any concept half-finished. “It’s important,” he warns. Larraín then quotes Julio Cortázar: “There is only one way to kill monsters: accept them.” Otherwise, they become eternal.


8 Reasons Why Highly Intelligent Individuals Tend To Embrace Messiness At Home

By Darren Wilson

In the realm of intellectual brilliance, the concept of order and tidiness often takes a backseat. Highly intelligent individuals, driven by a relentless pursuit of knowledge and innovation, forge their paths in a world of ideas and creativity.

This propensity for intellectual pursuits can give rise to living spaces that may seem cluttered and untamed to the untrained eye.

Here, we dive into eight compelling reasons why some of the brightest minds in history tend to gravitate towards messy households, shedding light on the unique relationship between intelligence and chaos.

1. Unkempt Homes Foster Creativity and Novelty

For highly intelligent individuals, a chaotic environment serves as a crucible for creativity.

Studies from the University of Minnesota have shown that disorderly settings encourage thinking outside the box. In experiments, participants in cluttered rooms generated ideas perceived as more enjoyable and innovative.

This environment fosters a unique brand of creativity, allowing brilliant minds to explore uncharted territories of thought.

2. Disinclination to Adhere to Social Norms

Conformity rarely finds a place in the lives of the highly intelligent. These individuals possess an independent streak that extends to their living spaces.

They question the societal expectation of a meticulously clean home, choosing instead to embrace the chaos that mirrors their unconventional thinking.

Their rejection of conformity extends to their environment, where their independent spirit takes precedence over tidiness.

3. Energy Allocated to Intellectual Pursuits

The pursuit of intellectual endeavors consumes the majority of their energy. Immersed in research, contemplation, and problem-solving, these individuals leave minimal room for routine tasks like cleaning.

This single-minded dedication to intellectual pursuits manifests in a living space that reflects their prioritization of knowledge over cleanliness.

4. Immersed in Thoughts, Oblivious to Surroundings

The minds of highly intelligent individuals are a whirlwind of intellectual activity. Lost in contemplation about the nature of existence and the complexities of the universe, they often become oblivious to their immediate surroundings.

This profound mental engagement takes precedence over the physical environment, resulting in spaces that may appear untamed to others.

“In the world of a true entrepreneur, chaos and creativity dance in perfect harmony.”

– Raza H. Qadri

5. Cleaning Appears Boring and Monotonous

Geniuses often find routine tasks like cleaning to be uninspiring and monotonous.

Their minds are wired to seek intellectual stimulation and challenge, rendering cleaning a lower priority.

They possess a higher threshold for messiness, requiring mental engagement that everyday tasks cannot provide.

6. Independence Trumps Social Approval

Independence is a hallmark of highly intelligent individuals. They chart their paths, setting their own standards and disregarding external validation.


This autonomy extends to their living spaces, where their personal preferences dictate the level of tidiness. They clean not to conform but to accommodate their own thresholds of disorder.

7. Priority on World-Changing Pursuits

For these exceptional minds, the pursuit of groundbreaking ideas takes precedence over mundane tasks.

Cleaning, considered peripheral in the grand scheme of their intellectual pursuits, is deferred to allow room for the development of technologies and solutions that shape the course of progress.

8. Aversion to Mundane Tasks

The brilliance of these minds lies in their ability to envision a transformative future. The act of cleaning pales in comparison to the exhilaration of ideation and innovation.

Cleaning becomes a secondary concern, reserved for moments when disorder reaches an insurmountable level. The brilliance of their minds manifests not in pristine living spaces, but in the ideas and innovations that have the power to change the world.

8 Reasons Why Highly Intelligent Individuals Tend To Embrace Messiness At Home

“Glimpse” by PS Art

In the tapestry of intelligence, the threads of brilliance are often interwoven with chaos. Highly intelligent individuals find their stride amidst clutter, using their mental prowess to craft worlds of innovation and creativity. While their living spaces may appear untamed, they stand as a testament to the extraordinary minds that inhabit them.

In the pursuit of groundbreaking ideas and transformative technologies, the genius of messiness finds its place. It is a reminder that the true measure of brilliance lies not in the pristine order, but in the world-altering ideas that emerge from the minds of these exceptional individuals.

Thank You For Your Love And Support!

— By Darren Wilson | Team ‘THE VOICE OF EU

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Copyright Dispute: DC Comics And ‘Fables’ Author Clash over Ownership, Author Aims for Public Domain

A detail from a 'Fables' cartoon by Bill Willingham. Image courtesy of the publisher ECC.
A detail from a ‘Fables’ cartoon by Bill Willingham. Image courtesy of the publisher ECC.

This is a story full of fairy tales. In some ways, it even resembles one. And yet it also proves that, in the real world, things rarely end happily ever after. A few days ago, Bill Willingham, the father of the celebrated Fables comic book series, announced that he was sending his most cherished work to the public domain, that is, to everyone. That’s only fair, since that is also where he got the main characters of his stories, from Snow White to the Wolf, from Pinocchio to Prince Charming, who were then relocated to modern New York. In this tale, the hero has long-faced mistreatment at the hands of the villains, DC Comics, the owner of Vertigo, which publishes the work in the United States, and its executives.

“If I couldn’t prevent Fables from falling into bad hands, at least this is a way I can arrange that it also falls into many good hands,” Willingham wrote in an online post in which he decried the label’s repeated attempts to take over his creations and opposed them with this final extreme remedy. But the company responded that it considers itself to be the true owner of the series.

In a statement published by the specialized media IGN, the company threatened to take “necessary action” to defend its rights. Thus, the end of the dispute is uncertain. But it is unlikely that everyone will end up happily ever after.

In the meantime, in a new post, Willingham celebrated the massive support he received. In fact, for the moment, he has declined all interview requests — he did not respond to this newspaper’s request, nor did the publisher — arguing that he preferred to spend the next few days working on new artistic projects. Meanwhile, the dispute continues.

Fables is one of the most celebrated graphic novels of the last 20 years, and it has spawned spin-offs and a video game adaptation (The Wolf Among Us).

This situation also touches on a key issue, namely, the intellectual property rights of characters and works, especially in a sector where, for decades, dozens of cartoonists and screenwriters have accused comic book giants Marvel and DC of pressuring them to cede their ideas and accept commissioned contracts.

Willingham sums it up as a policy aimed to make creators sign “work for hire” agreements and crush them. All of this makes a gesture that was already intended to make a splash even more resonant.

A detail from a ‘Fables’ cartoon by Bill Willingham. Image provided by ECC
A detail from a ‘Fables’ cartoon by Bill Willingham. Image provided by ECC.

Indeed, the battle over intellectual property is as old as contemporary comics: the copyrights for Superman, Batman and The Fantastic Four all have unresolved disputes and complaints from Jerry Siegel, Bill Finger and Jack Kirby over the contemptuous treatment they suffered. And heavyweight Alan Moore has been lamenting for years that DC took away his ownership of famous works like Watchmen.

Along with prestige and principles, tens of millions of dollars are at stake, especially now that the film industry has become interested in comics.

“When you sign a contract with DC, your responsibilities to them are carved in stone, where their responsibilities to you are treated as “helpful suggestions that we’ll try to accommodate when we can, but we’re serious adults, doing serious business and we can’t always take the time to indulge the needs of these children who work for us” the Fables author wrote on his blog. Following the impact of his original message, Willingham posted two other texts. He maintains that he had thought about sending his work into the public domain when he passed away, but that “certain events” have changed his plans: among them, he lists the changes in management and attitude at the top of the publishing company; the multiple breaches of obligations such as consultations about covers, artists for new plots and adaptations; DC’s forgetfulness when it came to pay, which forced him to demand invoices of up to $30,000; the suspicious frequency with which the publisher attributed it to “slipping through the cracks” (to such an extent that the author insisted that they stop using that expression); and the time and chances he gave them to respect the pact, renegotiate it or even break it and consensually separate.

A detail from the cover of the first volume of Bill Willingham's comprehensive collection of 'Fables.'
A detail from the cover of the first volume of Bill Willingham’s comprehensive collection of ‘Fables’.

“Shortly after creating Fables, I entered into a publishing agreement with DC Comics. In that agreement, while I continued to own the property, DC would have exclusive rights to publish Fables comics, and then later that agreement was expanded to give DC exclusive rights to exploit the property in other ways, including movies and TV.

DC paid me a fair price for these rights (fair at the time), and as long as they behaved ethically and above-board, and conducted themselves as if this were a partnership, all was more or less well. But DC doesn’t seem to be capable of acting fairly and above-board.

In fact, they treated this agreement (as I suppose I should have known they would) as if they were the boss and I, their servant. In time that got worse, as they later reinterpreted our contracts to assume they owned Fables outright,” Willingham laments. Hence, he concluded that “you can’t reason with the unreasonable.”

Having ruled out a lawsuit as too expensive and time-consuming at 67 years of age, he found a more creative solution: if they prevented him from owning his works and benefiting from them as he was entitled to do, he would not let the publisher do so either. Or, at least, everyone could use the comics as they wished. But the label was quick to clarify in its statement to IGN: “The Fables comic books and graphic novels [are] published by DC, and are not in the public domain”.

For his part, Willingham promises to continue fighting for all the conditions of his still-in-force contract that he considers DC to have violated, as well as for the last installments of the series, the final script of which he delivered two years ago.

There will be additional chapters in this dispute, as well as in many other ones like it: in 2024, the historic first image of Mickey Mouse, the one that starred in the 1928 short Steamboat Willie, enters the public domain in the U.S. and other countries. Copyright in the U.S. lasts for 95 years, and math is an exact science.

Therefore, in a few years, King Kong, Superman and Popeye will meet the same fate. But The New York Times has wondered how the “notoriously litigious” Disney will react and how far it will go to fight in court. And who would dare to freely use all these works for fear of a million-dollar lawsuit? The same question surrounds DC and similar companies. Because in the real world, fairy tales are rare. Or they end up in court.

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Hollywood Actors & Studios Meet For First Time In 80 Days To Seek End To Strike

A lot has happened during the 80 says since the actors union SAG-AFTRA called a strike on July 13, but not when it comes to negotiations. It was not until Monday that the union finally met with the Alliance of Motion Picture and Television Producers (AMPTP) to start talks on their new collective contract, which is renewed every three years. The union and Hollywood studios have maintained such distant positions that it took two and a half months for them to finally sit down and talk.

On Monday, October 2, representatives of both parties met to discuss the actors’ concerns: an increase in the minimum wage, guarantees regarding the role of artificial intelligence, regulations for the increasingly demanding self-taped auditions and fairer residuals — the long-term payments to those who worked on films and television shows for reruns and other airings after the initial release — in line with the rise of streaming. The meeting does not mean that the two sides have reached an agreement, but it does show greater willingness to strike a deal.

The SAG-AFTRA did not release a statement on the meeting until 8 p.m. LA time. “We have concluded our first day back in the bargaining with the AMPTP and will resume talks on Wednesday, October 4,” it stated, while encouraging actors to join the picket line on Tuesday. “One day longer. One day stronger. As long as it takes,” it ended. No details of the negotiation have been leaked, and both parties decided months ago not to give specific information to the media about the talks until a deal had been struck.

The SAG-AFTRA, which represents more than 160,000 actors, announced last week that they were finally going to sit down with the AMPTP, which represents Paramount, Disney, Universal, Netflix, Amazon, Sony, Warner and Apple. The strike has already led to $6 billion in losses, according to calculations by the state of California.

The talks with the actors union come after Hollywood studios and the Writers Guild of America (WGA) reached an agreement to end the screenwriters strike, which began on May 2 and lasted almost 150 days. The two parties negotiated for days before coming to a tentative deal on September 24. Writers in the union still need to vote on the deal, but it is widely expected to be ratified. If approved, the new collective agreement will be in effect until May 2026.

Just days after the end of the screenwriters strike, the actors union announced that they were set to begin negotiations with the Hollywood studios. But actor Fran Drescher, the president of the SAG-AFTRA, warned they had differing demands. “We’re happy WGA came to an agreement but one size doesn’t fit all,” she told CNN.

The hat, full of pins and badges, of an actor protesting at a strike picket in Manhattan, New York, on September 28, 2023.
The hat, full of pins and badges, of an actor protesting at a strike picket in Manhattan, New York. MIKE SEGAR (REUTERS)

Since the actors’ strike was called in mid-July, tensions have been running high between the union and the Hollywood studios — so much so that it took more than 80 days for them to initiate talks.

The key issues are salaries and artificial intelligence. Now that the WGA has struck a deal, the SAG-AFTRA is alone on the picket line. It is seeking to negotiate a deal that is as good as the “exceptional” agreement achieved by writers.

But analysts warn the union shouldn’t rush to reach a deal, given 160,000 families will be affected by the terms of the new collective contract. “It is not the actors’ responsibility to bring Hollywood back to life,” the Los Angeles Times wrote Monday in an editorial. “It was not the actors who created the problems that forced two incredibly disruptive strikes, any more than it was the writers. The studios created a system in which working actors can no longer earn a living wage in their chosen profession, and it’s up to the studios to change that.”

The strike has put hundreds of workers in grave financial strain. Some of Hollywood’s highest-paid actors have donated millions of dollars to a common fund to help actors navigate these months of uncertainty.

This is the first time actors have been on strike since 1980. So far, it has been an upward battle. Chief negotiator Duncan Crabtree-Ireland told EL PAÍS that the actors have been willing to negotiate from day one, but that the studios have been reluctant to engage in talks. “We think that there is only one way to reach an agreement, and that is to talk and negotiate. And if they don’t want to talk to us, and they don’t want to negotiate with us, we’re going to be ready to do that any time they’re ready,” she said.

That moment has taken almost three months to arrive. And this time, there will be new talks within 48 hours.

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