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Chilean journalist publishes biographical book on filmmaker Adelqui Millar

“Film Star” is the name of the first literary publication that deals with the life, work and legacy of the actor, screenwriter, producer and revered director of silent and sound films, on the 130th anniversary of his birth in Concepción, Chile.

It has been 65 years since the death of the acclaimed actor, producer and film director Adelqui Millar. However, his name in Chile is largely unknown by the new generations of film buffs and his legacy seems to be diluted in his own land, while outside the country his work is revalued, rescued and re-studied. 

It was precisely this lack of knowledge that led journalist Carlos Ilabaca Villanueva to immerse himself in a journalistic investigation that took two years and that today results in the first publication that deals with the career of that son of Italian immigrants born in Concepción with the name of Adelqui Migliar Icardi and who today is considered one of the ten best Chilean directors to have worked in Hollywood.

The book “Film Star: Adelqui Millar (1891-1956). Un penquista en cúspide del cine mundial” is a biographical journalistic work, but at the same time seeks to serve as an important compendium of his filmography and a compilation of the film archives that today house part of his film work in different parts of the world. 

Cover of the book “Film Star: Adelqui Millar (1891-1956)”.

Deep investigation

“It was two years of research that coincided with the development of the pandemic that confined us for a long time in our homes. This allowed me to carry out a thorough review of many books, databases, papers and academic essays, along with more than 380 clippings from newspapers, periodicals and weeklies from the British, Dutch, French, Italian, Spanish, American, Argentine and Chilean press, as well as 247 articles from specialized film magazines,” commented its author, journalist Carlos Ilabaca, former director of the newspaper Crónica Chillán.

“It was a real revelation to realize the great number of available sources with information on the life, work and legacy of Adelqui Millar that I found outside Chile, followed by a great disappointment for the scarce material I could find here. Even so, thanks to a follow-up of multiple documentary sources I was able to portray with great accuracy her family and even school history, for example as a student of Professor Enrique Molina Garmendia at the exLiceo de Concepción, the same one that today bears the name of the outstanding academic”, added the writer. 

The book includes many articles in which Millar himself tells his personal story, his adventures in America, as an itinerant theater actor in Peru and Bolivia, a boxer in Ecuador, a sailor in Panama, as a lion tamer in a circus in San Francisco until he found his vocation in cinema. Then, he deals with the beginning of his fame as a Latin lover and matinee idol in Holland, his acting consecration in England, his first steps as a film entrepreneur until he reached his highest point as head of Spanish-language production for Paramount in France, where he directed his most acclaimed film, “Luces de Buenos Aires” (1931), the film that internationalized Carlos Gardel’s career.

Legacy for cinema

The book also portrays the contribution made by Adelqui Millar to the Latin American film industry by directing eight spoken productions during the golden age of Argentine cinema, one of which starred Eva Duarte – later known as Eva Perón – and a co-production also filmed in Chile called “Tormenta en el Alma” (1946).

Journalist Carlos Ilabaca comments that the book culminates with a very personal tribute he made at the Migliar Icardi family mausoleum, located in the General Cemetery of Concepción, where Adelqui’s remains rest next to his mother and whose tombstone commemorates him with the inscription: “Adelqui Millar. Great actor and film director”. 

Since May 2, the publication “Film Star: Adelqui Millar (1891-1956)” is part of the Kindle Direct Publishing catalog and is available for reading in digital format or for printing on the Amazon.com platform.

About the author of this book:

Carlos Ilabaca Villanueva is a journalist, writer and self-taught musician. 

He was born on October 24, 1976, in Viña del Mar. He studied elementary and high school at the Colegio Salesiano de Concepción. Later, he entered the Universidad del Desarrollo in Concepción and graduated as a journalist on March 24, 1999. His first jobs as a reporter were at Octava, Universidad de Concepción and Universidad del Bío-Bío radio stations, TVU television channel in Concepción and El Llanquihue newspaper in Puerto Montt, where he became deputy director. Between 2009 and 2020 he served as director of the newspaper Crónica Chillán, where he strongly promoted the cultural development of artists and creators of the Ñuble Region. 

Periodista Carlos Ilabaca Villanueva.

Throughout his career he has been the author of several articles, reports and interviews published in national media. Currently, he is a contributor to the magazine “Quinchamalí. Artes, Letras, Sociedad” and develops content for various electronic media, in addition to communications consultancies. He is also a musician and composer of the rock band Almas Gemelas, formed in Concepción in 1994.

“Film Star: biography of Adelqui Millar (1891-1956)” is his first literary work as such. It arose as research suggested by Professor Alejandro Witker, as part of a report for the magazine “Quinchamalí”. The large amount of background information and material collected was the genesis for a much deeper investigation that culminated in a visit and a sincere tribute by the author at the resting place of the filmmaker in the General Cemetery of Concepción.


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