President Sebastian Pinera praised Ruiz in an online statement as someone who "opened the world to us."
Ruiz had lived in self-imposed exile in France since the 1970s when he fled a coup that overthrew the government of President Salvador Allende.
The Los Angeles Times Saturday said Ruiz had a highly literary style that led to frequent adaptations of serious and often-dense novels. He most-recent work was "Mysteries of Lisbon," which stretches more than 4 hours in length.
At the same time, the Times said, he was able to avoid becoming bogged down and often threw in plot twists and overheated scandals of the style often found in the Mexican soap operas he directed at one point in his career.
Ruiz's filmography includes his 1968 Cuban epic "Tres Tristes Tigres" and later films featuring stars Marcello Mastroianni and John Malkovich.