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Underground Rumblings

Santiago, Chile. As mass student protests roil the country, Lumpen Crew, a collective of young hip hop activists, begin to organize as a political force. As the movement progresses, state repression intensifies. A young labor leader with ties to Lumpen Crew is assassinated and the collective disbands. However, the group’s music and political commitment will mark an entire generation of young rebels.

  • Francisco Núñez Capriles
  • Carlos Pino Hidalgo
  • Ana Fox-Hodess
  • Mixie Araya
  • Project Title (Original Language):
    Diálogos Subterráneos
  • Project Type:
  • Runtime:
    52 minutes
  • Completion Date:
    October 12, 2020
  • Production Budget:
    6,000 USD
  • Country of Origin:
  • Country of Filming:
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  • First-time Filmmaker:
  • Student Project:
  • In-Edit Chile
    December 10, 2021
    World Premiere
    Official Selection
  • Festival Ojo de Pescado
    July 1, 2022
  • Festival Kolibri
    La Paz
    Bolivia, Plurinational State of
    October 22, 2022
    Best Feature Documentary
  • Hip Hop Cine Festival
    May 6, 2023
    European Premiere
    Best Documentary Feature - Finalist
Director Biography - Francisco Núñez Capriles

Francisco was born and raised in and around Santiago, Chile in a family of political dissidents at the end of the Pinochet dictatorship. He holds a BA in film from the University of Valparaíso and a MA in Latin American History from the University of Santiago.

He is currently filming a documentary about Oakland-based musician Fantastic Negrito. His first feature length documentary, Underground Rumblings (Diálogos Subterráneos), which follows an influential collective of young political hip hop artists in Chile during the 2011-2012 student protests, premiered in December 2021.

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Director Statement

The idea that became "Underground Rumblings" (Diálogos Subterráneos) was sparked in 2011, during large-scale student protests of the time. Students in Chile, the first generation to come of age after the brutal Pinochet dictatorship, rose up against the economic model and privatization of education left over from the regime. As a graduate student in one of the public universities roiled by ongoing protests, I began to research how the student movement -- led by high school students and supposedly so disjointed and powerless -- was able to organize itself so thoroughly across the country. Where did this effective mass political movement come from and what was nourishing it, in ideological terms? Of course many factors influenced the protests, but political hip hop was undoubtedly a central element, mentioned again and again in my conversations with students and overheard in the hallways of campuses taken over by protesters.

Through combative, incisive lyrics and movement-building activities, hip hop artists and collectives helped the most peripheral sectors of the movement to shape a coherent discourse and understanding of their social reality. Struck by the potency and influence of the political hip hop scene, in late 2011 I started working with one of the most emblematic collectives of the time: the Lumpen Crew. I spent four years participating and filming with the collective, with access to political meetings, educational workshops, moments of artistic creation, and public performances and protests. I documented how hip-hop activists had been working for years to build political and class consciousness and solidarity among the most marginalized sectors of Chilean society. I was consistently surprised by how sophisticated and advanced their political practices were, especially given how much mainstream discourse disregarded working class urban youth as disaffected and apolitical. The most beautiful thing for me was witnessing the impetus, creativity, and passion of these young people in the face of repression and precariousness.

Why release the movie now in 2021? After the collective dissolved in 2015, I stored the material for several years. At the time, it was difficult to convince anyone outside of the hip hop scene of the importance of what was happening there, since many of the proposals of the young hip hop activists were considered radical nonsense, or totally outdated. But the social uprising of 2019 in Chile changed everything. A mass popular movement emerged in full force, with social and political demands that would have seemed extreme only a few years before. The country's elites were left without any understanding what was happening or why -- mainstream media covered the protests as though they had emerged out of thin air. And in December 2021, Gabriel Boric, the 35-year-old former leader of the 2011 student protests was elected president of Chile.

By rescuing this material and finishing the documentary, we offer a perspective on how the Chile got to this point. The documentary traces the maturation of the social movement, the depth and sophistication of its practices and analyses, and the commitment with which these activists faced the task of changing Chile. While the Lumpen Crew dissolved before the 2019 protests, it’s easy to trace how the dedication and hard work over years of groups like the Lumpen Crew made it possible for a mass movement to emerge in 2019 with the slogan, "Neoliberalism was born and will die in Chile." This documentary is about hip hop and its potential as a form of creative resistance, but above all it is a story about working class young people fighting to build a more just and free society.