"They'll have to admit I was loyal some day." Ariel Dorfman
One of the biggest challenges that faces a documentary filmmaker is balancing the pursuit of passion and emotion with the quest to inform. To dig too deep in one leaves the possibility of short-changing the other. With fiction, they can be created together so that both thrive. With a documentary, however, there isn't that luxury. For Peter Raymont's latest film, A Promise to the Dead: The Exile Journey of Ariel Dorfman, one excels at the expense of the other. But that's not necessarily a bad thing.
Promise unfolds the life of writer and activist Ariel Dorfman, and how it intertwines with Augusto Pinochet's 1973 Chilean coup against then-president Salvador Allende. At the time, Dorfman was a Cultural Adviser and should have been called to the capitol building when it was under attack -- but he later learned his name was crossed off the list so that he'd survive to tell the story. And it is an incredible account -- one that discusses not only the life of a man in exile, but the drive of passion.