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In 1948 Pablo Neruda was the most famous literary figure in Chile, and a vocal Communist politician who was expelled from his country’s Senate when the Chilean government made communism illegal. 

To mark Refugee Week, the Deckie screens Neruda, a glamourous, film-noirish crime caper that sees Neruda become an outlaw. 

At first glimpse a biopic, the film takes a leap of fantasy and imagines the mischievous Neruda pitted against the opposite, straight-laced inspector Oscar Peluchonneau (Gael Garcia Bernal) who’s never heard of the poet and is determined to ensnare him. 

Directed by Chilean Pablo Larraín, who made Jackie in 2016, Neruda promises to be a vivid thriller of a film, with a timely message about art in the absence of democracy.

For the real-life Neruda, the plight of refugees and political exiles had a lasting impact on his life and poetry.

As a diplomat in Spain during the Civil War he helped re-settle hundreds of Spanish refugees to Chile. His own period of forced exile lasted three years, during which he wrote his most famous work Canto General, an epic homage to Chile and Latin America. 

Neruda – who was made a Nobel Laureate in 1971 – didn’t live to see the end of the repressive Pinochet regime in Chile but left a legacy of language that stands for those forced to flee war and oppression.

On June 16, lawyer Ahmed Dostizada will speak before the film. Dostizada is Hazara, a persecuted minority from Afghanistan, and now represents people seeking asylum.

See the Deckchair Cinema for more information.

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