Andrés Wood | Drama, Fiction, Classic

2004 | 120 minutes | Chile, Spain

A political and emotionally charged story, experienced by two 11-year-old boys coming from opposite ends of the social spectrum in the days leading up to the military coup in Chile.


The story takes place in Santiago in 1973 in the days leading up to the military coup, and is based on a real experiment carried out during the socialist government of Salvador Allende at Saint George's College (Saint Patrick's College in the film). The college scenes were shot at the East Campus of the Pontificia Universidad Católica de Chile and at the Barros Arana National Boarding School.

Gonzalo Infante (Matías Quer), an eleven-year-old boy, studies at Saint Patrick's, a reputable religious school whose students come from the upper middle class of Santiago.

The headmaster, Father McEnroe (inspired by the rector of Saint George Gerardo Whelan and played by Ernesto Malbrán), brings a new group of children to the establishment, all of them from the popular class, in order to educate them without discrimination, in an attempt to promote mutual respect among students from different social classes. Among this group is Pedro Machuca (Ariel Mateluna). After some conflicts between the new classmates, a friendship is born between Gonzalo and Machuca. Both children visit each other's homes on different occasions, and get to know their families and the internal realities they both live. At Pedro's house, Gonzalo meets and falls in love with Silvana, a teenage girl neighboring Pedro.

However, the political climate of the time progressively deteriorates their friendship. The coup d'état of September 11, 1973, led by General Augusto Pinochet to overthrow the Popular Unity government of Salvador Allende, suddenly interrupts the relationship of these three friends. The direction of Saint Patrick passes into the hands of the Chilean Army, with the consequent dismissal of Father McEnroe, the expulsion of several students and the militarization of the school.

* Spanish language audio description is available via the ALL4ACCESS App and/or .wav file when purchasing a DSL license.

Accessibility for these films was created by DICAPTA and funded under a grant from the U.S. Department of Education- Office of Special Education-OSEP, project “Enhanced Access to Video for Students with Sensory Disabilities through Emerging Technology,” TV Access H327C210001.


" both sweet and stringent, attuned to the wonders of childhood as well as its cruelty and terror. Mr. Wood allows the story to unfold at a leisurely, almost dawdling pace, which matches the consciousness of his young protagonist." — A.O. Scott, The New York Times

"Richly human in focus, the drama steadily cranks up its political and emotional charge, poignantly viewing its themes through the eyes of two 11-year-old boys. Accomplished third feature from Chilean director Andres Wood." — David Rooney, Variety

"That rare film that merges the personal and political without sacrificing restraint or intellectual honesty." — Ann Hornaday, Washington Post

"A powerful and touching story about friendship — its importance, its potential for redemption, and its ability (or inability) to withstand pernicious influence." — Naomi Daremblum, Brooklyn Rail

"A privileged moment of cinema, and of life, that takes us back to the deepest and most painful part of human experience, to the abyss where innocence can turn into cruelty, where fear numbs solidarity and where the child begins to become an adult, betraying his own feelings. A shocking metaphor that condenses the deep meaning of this modest but lucid film." — Carlos F. Heredero, El Cultural

Main credits

Wood, Andrés (film director)
Wood, Andrés (film producer)
Wood, Andrés (screenwriter)
Herrero, Gerardo (film producer)
Brodsky B., Roberto (screenwriter)
Quer, Matías (actor)
Mateluna, Ariel (actor)
Martelli, Manuela (actor)
Küppenheim, Aline (actor)
Hassan, Mamoun (film producer)
Hassan, Mamoun (screenwriter)

Other credits

Cinematography, Miguel Joan Littin; editor, Fernando Pardo; music, José Miguel Miranda, José Miguel Tobar.

historical fiction, drama, friendship, dictatorship, Pinochet, coming of age, repression, world cinema, Oscar academy awards, Chile, spanish, spanish language, latin america, latin american cinema, latin american film, ibero america, latin, latinx, latino, latina,,authority, authoritarianism, dictatorship, military regime, military government, fascism, repression, oppression, political oppression, political repression, far right, far right wing, modern fascism,latin american studies, caribbean american studies, island studies, latin american culture, latin american history, latin american politics, caribbean american culture, caribbean american history, caribbean american politics, latin american languages, latin american and caribbean studies, hispanic american studies, hispanic people, hispanic culture, hispanic politics,cinema studies, film studies, cinema, film, movies, motion pictures, film history, film production, film criticism, cinema history, cinema production, cinema criticism, movie history, movie production, movie criticism, history of cinema, history of film,classic films, cult films, film degree, film major, media studies, film and media studies, film and television studies, film production studies, cinema studies, film history, cinema history, black and white films, silent films, talkies, film music, film accompaniment, early cinema, early 20th century cinema, birth of cinema, birth of color cinema, technicolor, kinemacolor, magic lantern, camera obscura,child, children, childhood, kid, girl, girlhood, boy, boyhood, teen, teenager, puberty, adolescence, adolescent, coming-of-age, minor, kiddo, kids, juvenile, stripling, moppet, tyke, tween, tot, toddler, sonny, girlie, underaged, dependent, youngster, infancy, babyhood, girlhood, boyhood, friendships, juvenescence, juvenility, springtime, early life,culture, identity, identity politics, culture wars, left wing, right wing, intersectionality, identity groups, civilization, literacy, humanism, cancel culture, online culture, cultural revolution, cultural diffusion, culture shock, popular culture, pop culture, material culture, cultural capital, cultural assimilation ,family, kin, fellowship, household, immediate family, extended family, multigenerational family, multigenerational household, kinfolk, family tree, genealogy, nuclear family, modern family, family tree,education, school, pedagogy, schooling, elementary education, secondary education, upper education, advanced education, education gap, learning, schooling, university, college, degrees, high school, middle school, junior high school, public school, private school, independent school, elementary school, schooling, school policy, educational equity,history, context, narrative, past, chronicle, lore, annals, historic, personal history, archive, record, saga, biography, memoir, study,south america, south american countries, countries in south america, argentina, bolivia, brazil, chile, colombia, ecuador, guyana, paraguay, peru, suriname, uruguay, venezuela, south american politics, south american culture, south american cuisine, south american education, south america in media, south american languages, south america history,machuca,manchuca,ricardo darin,MA,colombia,Over the Edge,macuche,machuka,Colonia,spider,chilean boys school,norma aleandro; "Machuca"; Pragda Films; oscar contenders,oscar awards,oscar nominees,oscar nominee,oscar contenders,oscar consideration,oscars,oscar consideration,oscar® finalist,academy awards,academy award,academy
No clips are available yet.

Academy Awards® - Chile's submission for Best Foreign Language Film
Cannes Film Festival - Special Mention
Havana Film Festival - Coral Award for Best Cinematography
Philadelphia Film Festival - Audience Award, Best Feature Film
Lima Latin American Film Festival - Elcine First Prize
Vancouver International Film Festival - Winner, Most Popular Film

DIRECTOR: Andrés Wood


YEAR: 2004

GENRE: Drama, Fiction, Classic


COLOR / B&W: Color

GRADE LEVEL: High School, College, Adults



Existing customers, please log in to view this film.

New to Pragda? Register to request a quote.