Chicago Boys charts the journey, from the 1950s to present day, of a group of Chilean students who studied economic philosophies under Milton Friedman at the University of Chicago. Home movies reveal the camaraderie of study, excessive partying, and in more recent interviews the men talk freely and fondly of their time in Chicago.
In 1973 the Chicago Boys implemented their economic project (el ladrillo – the brick) on Chilean society following the CIA-backed coup which installed General Pinochet as Head of State. What resounds throughout this documentary is the avoidance of accountability assumed by these men in regard to the consequences of their social reform. Sergio De Castro, one of many Chicago Boys who joined the military government claims, as do others, that his concerns were purely economical, he was unaware of the brutalities which occurred under Pinochet.
Directors Carola Fuentes and Rafael Valdeavellano offer up excellently edited, behind the scenes insight as to why the viewer might question these claims, as does testament from economist Ricardo Ffrench-Davis who, although himself a Chicago Boy, remains highly critical.
Although fascinating, Chicago Boys might benefit from better highlighting why mass protest still rages in Chile (lack of subtitles during the protest scenes is frustrating). Protesters are not awarded opportunity to respond to the economists’ bafflement at their discontentment which, if intended as symbolic, feels a little too subtle.
Chicago Boys is an important slice of South American and World history. Economics should work for society, not the other way round.
Sunday 19 June 3.55pm Filmhouse 3
Wednesday 22 June 6.15pm Cineworld