Juan Forch


The Chilean director, author and photographer Juan Forch was born in Santiago, Chile, in 1948. He studied journalism at the Universidad de Chile. While still a student, he worked as a photojournalist for Ramona magazine and joined the ChileFilms company as a scriptwriter and director for short documentaries. In 1972, he also co-wrote with Lucho Abarca the well-known study, Viaje por la juventud (A Journey through Youth, Quimantú publishing house), about the subculture youth scene in Chile. After the military coup in Chile in 1973 and a short detention, he immigrated to East Germany via Mexico. After working at the camera manufacturer, Dresden Pentacon, he joined the DEFA Studio for Animation Films in Dresden and learned the craft of animation.


Between 1975 and 1978, Forch made several animation and documentary films drawing on his Chilean background and his artistic and political experiences in exile. The photo collages Chile lebt (1976) and Keiner kann die Revolution aufhalten (1976), the latter in collaboration with media artist Lutz Dammbeck, proclaim a hope for victory of progressive forces over the Pinochet dictatorship. The collage Chile (1975) by Forch and Jörg Herrmann reveals the USA as the backer of the military coup in Chile on September 11, 1973. The trick collage Hitlerpinochet (1975) by Forch and Herrmann draws similarities between political slogans used by Adolf Hitler and Augusto Pinochet. In 1976, Forch and Rolf Hofmann, filmed Chilean students in Dresden while drawing a mural in honor of former President Salvador Allende (Brigada - Ein Beitrag zur Solidarität anläßlich der 16. Arbeiterfestspiele 1976 in Dresden). The cut-out animation film Neutronenfrieden? (1977) offers a warning against a nuclear war instigated by the USA. Forch creates a visually and colorfully powerful epic about the life of the Indigenous Mapuche community in the cut-out film Lautaro (1977), his most comprehensive work at the Dresden studio. Moreover, the animation film Rosaura (1978) by Forch and Lothar Barke atmospherically translates a poem by Juan Forch into images.


In 1978, Forch returned to Chile and created short commercials. Parallel to that, he worked on Chilean and foreign documentaries about the political situation in Chile, as well as developing his own productions on the Chilean art scene in the 1980s. In 1988, he was involved in the political NO campaign that helped crumble the Pinochet regime. Director Pablo Larrain narrates the history of this campaign in his feature film NO (2012). This film was nominated for Best Foreign Language Film at the Academy Awards and screened at the prestigious Cannes Film Festival where it won the 2012 C.I.C.A.E. Award. Forch was also associate producer for the thriller Johnny cien pesos (1993, dir. Gustavo Graef Marino) that was selected as the Chilean entry for the 2013 Best Foreign Language Film at the Academy Awards.


After the NO Campaign in Chile, Forch has worked as a consultant on electoral campaign issues and political communication in several Latin American countries. Since 2000, Forch has written several novels, as well as poetry and short stories. In fall 2023, the art gallery Galería 3.14 in Santiago dedicated the first solo exhibition, titled Contratemas, to the artist's work. It highlighted Forch’s artistic reflections on his experiences during the dictatorship, exile and his return to and life in Chile. The exhibition also included three videos about Forch’s long-term project of more than 25 years, in which he researched and photographed more than 1,500 animitas (popular culture temples) in Chile. In tandem with the exhibition was the publication of Era martes (It Was on Tuesday), a never-before-published collection of photographs and poetry by Juan Forch, which was written in Lota in the early 1970s just after the military coup.


Juan Forch currently lives in the southern part of Chile.



We would like to thank Juan Forch for working with us on this biography and for authorizing it. (Jan. 2024)

Festivals & Awards:

2024 Retrospective The DEFA Films of Juan Forch, Massachusetts Multicultural Film Festival, Amherst, USA
2024 HitlerPinochet, Rotterdam International Film Festival, Netherlands


2012 NO (actor)
1999 La television del “No” (The Television of “No,” doc., dir.)
1996 Mi ultimo hombre (My Last Man, actor)
1993 Johnny cien pesos (Johnny 100 Pesos, associate producer)
1988 The Lawless Land (executive producer)
1988 Altazor o el viaje y paracaídas (Altazor or the Trip and Parachute, experimental short, dir.)
1985 El padre mio (My Father, experimental short, dir.)
1985 Los hijos de la Guerra Fria (Children of the Cold War, actor)
1985 Como me da la gana (As I Want, short doc., camera)
1985 Macias, ensayo general sobre el poder y la gloria (Macias, an Essay about Power and Glory, short doc., camera)
1984 Carrete de Verano (Summer Reel, doc., camera)
1984 Dolce Patria (Sweet Homeland, doc., camera)
1984 La merienda de locos (The Crazy Snack, short doc., script, dir.)
1984 Todo es de color (Everything in Color, short, script, dir.)
1983 Gracias por un favor concedido (Thank You for the Granted Favor, short doc., script, dir.)
1982 Papá te habla de lejos (Dad Talks to You from Afar, short doc., dir., script)
1978 Rosaura (animation short, based on a poem by Juan Forch)
1977 Lautaro (animation short, dir.)
1977 Neutron Peace? (Neutronenfrieden?, animation short, dir.)
1977 Copihuito (doc., animation)
1976-77 La Brigada – A Mural for the Unidad Popular in Dresden (Brigada - Ein Beitrag zur Solidarität anläßlich der 16. Arbeiterfestspiele 1976 in Dresden, co-directed with Rolf Hoffmann.)
1976 Chile Lives (co-dir.)
1976 Nobody Can Stop the Revolution (Die Revolution kann keener aufhalten, doc., dir.)
1975 Hitlerpinochet (animation short, co-dir.)
1975-76 Eine Reportage für die Weltgeschichte – USA 200 (A Report for World History – USA 200, animation short, dir.)
1975 Chile (animation short, co-dir.)
1975 No (animation short)
1973 Celulosa Arauco, empresa de los trabajadores (Arauco Pulp, a Worker’s Company, doc., unfinished)
1972 PIA 72 (short doc about small industry and crafts)
1971 Nuestro frente de batalla es la producción (Our Battlefront Is Production, short doc., assist. dir.)

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