Carmen Castillo, writer and director

Refugiee from Chili between 1977 and 1981

Carmen Castillo was born on 21 May 1945 in Santiago, Chile. After pursuing higher studies, she taught history at a university. At age 17, she joined the Movement of the Revolutionary Left (MIR), founded in 1965 following the merging of various far left-wing groups, Trotskyists, socialists and Guevarists. She married Andrés Pascal Allende, a sociologist and activist, with whom she had a daughter, and later met Miguel Enríquez, Secretary-General of the movement.

After Salvador Allende was elected President on 4 September 1970, Carmen Castillo worked for a while at the Presidential Palace, alongside Beatriz, one of the President's daughters. Miguel Enríquez. The MIR was in charge of the head of state’s security for a while and then grew within the social movement. Operating autonomously, it provided the Popular Unity government with essential backing and consistently forewarned them of the any onslaught of bourgeoisie forces backed by the US government. On 11 September 1973, a military coup took place that brought General Augusto Pinochet to power. Salvador Allende committed suicide. The new masters of Chile led an initiative designed to systematically eradicate the "Marxist cancer". MIR activists were a priority target and Miguel Enríquez was one of the junta's most wanted.

On 5 October 1974, the military surrounded the house at 725 Santa Fe Street in Santiago, where Miguel and his daughter Javiera, along with Carmen Castillo, who was pregnant, and her daughter Camila, were all hiding. The girls were 5 years old. After two hours of fighting, Miguel Enríquez was shot. Carmen Castillo, who was seriously injured, was initially taken to prison and then to hospital thanks to the intervention of a neighbour. A month later, following international pressure, she was transferred directly to London to join her parents who were living in exile there. Her son, Miguel Angel, who was born in Cambridge, died in February 1975 as a result of the injuries. Carmen Castillo requested to transfer the asylum granted by Great Britain to France. In 1977 she was granted political refugee status.

Carmen Castillo was granted French citizenship in 1981 and became a film director and writer. Her films and books depict her struggles for the freedom of her country. In her books Un jour d'octobre à Santiago (A Day in October in Santiago) and Ligne de fuite (Escape Route), as well as in her film Rue Santa Fe (Santa Fe Street) (2007), she recounts her journey and that of her generation. Her latest film, We are Alive, was released on 29 April 2015.