SPECIAL CIRCUMSTANCES follows Chilean exile Héctor Salgado as he returns to Chile from the US to seek and confront the men who imprisoned him and tortured and killed his friends after the coup of 1973. Through his journey, audiences will come to understand the legal, political and social obstacles standing in the way of a nation’s attempt, thirty years later, to overcome its brutal history.
On September 11, 1973, General Augusto Pinochet, with support of the U.S., staged a violent coup and overthrew the democratically elected government of Salvador Allende. In the years that followed, an estimated 3,200 people were executed or disappeared. Tens of thousands more were detained and tortured, and an estimated one million people sent into exile.
Héctor Salgado is a survivor of interrogation, detainment and torture during the Pinochet years. Arrested at age 16, he was imprisoned for three years and then sent into exile to the U.S., forbidden to return to Chile to see his family for twelve years. Upon Pinochet’s arrest in 1998, Héctor returns to his home town of Tomé to find out what happened to others who were arrested with him and to seek justice for these human rights abuses. The resulting film not only tells a dramatic story of Héctor’s encounters with former military personnel, but also gives audiences a rare look at contemporary Chile and the nation’s efforts to reconcile its troubling history.