Ruiz Honored With National Day Of Mourning In Chile

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Arrangements being made to return body to his homeland to fulfill his final request.

BUENOS AIRES – The Chilean Government decreed a national day of mourning for the loss of filmmaker Raul Ruiz, who died earlier in the day died in Paris at the age of 71 due to a pulmonary infection. He had being diagnosed with liver cancer in 2009 and received a transplant in 2010.     

Chilean Minister of Culture Luciano Cruz-Coke announced the decision through his twitter account, and said arrangements are being made to bring Ruiz’s remains back to Chile, since, according to him, his last will requested that he be “be buried in his home country.” The day the body returns to Chile will be declared the national day of mourning.

“All negotiations are being carried on by the consulate and the Foreign Office in order to repatriate his body," Cruz-Coke told 24 Horas channel. "The burial site is still undefined, but we’re making all the efforts so the family won’t have to go through all that tedious and heavy red-tape, and trying to get this done as simple and easy as possible, because his final will was to be buried in his country.”

Regarded as the most significant Chilean filmmaker and theorist, Ruiz was born in Puerto Montt, Chile, and started his career as a director in the early 1960s. He was forced into exile after the coup staged by Augusto Pinochet in 1973, and moved to Paris where he continued his work with acclaimed titles like Marcel Proust’s Time Regained, and Klimt, both of which starred John Malkovich.

Although he was considered one of the top names in Chilean cinema – he competed in Cannes for the top prize five times and received a Life Achievement Golden Bear in the Berlin Film Festival, among many other awards — most of his work (more than a hundred films) is relatively unknown in his home country. Ruiz’s first film Three Sad Tigers was only recognized as a landmark in his career decades after its making, and his latest film, the 272 minutes Mysteries of Lisbon, received the Louis Delluc Award in France and was praised by critics worldwide, but was never released in Chile.

His long career in France was the cause for French president Sarkozy to issue a statement depicting him as “a creator whose commitment to his century’s combats was nourished by a huge erudition and an infinite curiosity”, and “a worthy heir of the Lumière” brothers.

Minister Cruz-Coke highlighted Ruiz’s link to his home country, and explained how in his last years he wanted to strengthen the presence of Chile in his films. One of his latest works, indeed, was La Recta Provincia, a TV series made for Chilean National Television about local myths and legends. “He always kept a deep feeling of connection to his Chilean origin,” Cruz-Coke said. 

Officials from the Santiago International Film Festival (SANFIC), which kicked off Friday, announced that this 7th edition of the festival will be held in his memory.