Oscar-nominated Chilean filmmaker Maite Alberdi documents a love story for the ages as a woman struggles to preserve the brilliant mind of her partner of 25 years who has been diagnosed with Alzheimer’s.
Screened as part of NZIFF 2023
A deeply moving and human portrait of enduring love, The Eternal Memory invites us into the lives of the celebrated Chilean journalist and author Augusto Góngora and his wife, actor and Chilean Minister of Culture, Paulina Urrutia. As one of Chile’s greatest cultural commentators and archivists, Góngora dedicated his career to ensuring the reality of the Pinochet dictatorship was not erased from collective consciousness (keen-eyed viewers will spot the iconic No poster on the walls of their home). Following his Alzheimer’s diagnosis in 2014, Urrutia took on the role of preservationist and began documenting their days together, capturing the joy and anguish of living with a neurodegenerative disease.
The well-deserved winner of this year’s Sundance Festival, The Eternal Memory is far from the overwrought portrayals of scripted Alzheimer dramas. Director Maite Alberdi (The Lifeguard, NZIFF 2012; The Mole Agent, 2020) captures an unyielding tenderness between the couple—even in the throes of Góngora’s worsening health. With her directorial hand invisible, Alberdi has crafted a slice-of-life documentary that has us feel as if we are guests or long-time friends of Góngora and Urrutia, watching, waiting, and hoping for the best. Seamlessly weaving archival footage of Góngora reporting on the front lines of Pinochet’s violent regime with 25 years of home video, and Alberdi’s gentle and deft documentation of the couple’s daily life, The Eternal Memory presents a rich tapestry of a life well worth remembering. — Kailey Carruthers