Fresh faces of Chilean cinema

Get to know a generation of promising talent

Matias Bize
“The Life of Fish” is a return to form for Bize, 32, best known for his risque award-winning feature “En la cama” (In bed). “The Life of Fish,” Bize’s fourth pic, represented Chile in the 2010 foreign-lingo Oscar race and brought home a string of kudos, including a Spanish Goya and from Huelva, Spain and Punta de Este, Uruguay, fests. Bize is no stranger to acclaim. He’s been collecting awards ever since he burst on the film scene at 23 with his feature debut, “Sabado” (Saturday).

Cristian Jimenez
Jimenez’s international studies in sociology deftly inform films in which his keen observations of body language are key. His dramedy “Bonsai” “traverses the border between pain and humor,” he says. Jimenez wrote stories, filmed various shorts and spent three years in London as a TV producer before making his debut feature, “Ilusiones Opticas.” Jimenez teaches at two films schools in Santiago, Chile.

Pablo Larrain
Larrain’s darkly comic blend of personal stories and political events has produced a number of compelling pics, beginning with “Fuga” in 2006. The writer-director’s sophomore feature, “Tony Manero,” debuted in Cannes’ Directors’ Fortnight the next year. His latest, “Post Mortem,” set during Augusto Pinochet’s reviled dictatorship, had its world premiere at the 2010 Venice film fest. Larrain, 35, co-founded Fabula, one of the leading film, TV and advertising shingles in Chile, with his brother, Juan de Dios.

Jorge Olguin
Olguin’s pioneering forays into the horror/fantasy genre has set him apart from his colleagues. He’s been adept at keeping costs down despite the necessary added expenses of makeup and special effects. He made his feature debut “Black Angel” for a mere $25,000. “Solos” (Descendents), billed as Chile’s first zombie pic, was shot in seven days for $200,000. Olguin’s next pic, “The Elementals,” is a tad more ambitious as this will be the first Chilean 3D live-action pic in English. Budget: Just under $1 million. Guillermo del Toro is producing Olguin’s long-gestating project, “Caleuche,” with Leonor Varela to star.

Nicolas Lopez
Lopez tapped the youth zeitgeist in Chile with last year’s love-in-the-times-of-Facebook romantic comedy “Que pena tu vida,” (Fuck My Life), for which he’s close to inking a U.S. remake deal and set on building into a franchise. Sequel “Que pena tu boda” is under way. Eli Roth will produce Lopez’s first English-language pic, earthquake drama “Aftershock,” based on a screenplay by Lopez and Guillermo Amoedo. Lopez, 28, has been crafting pics since he was 10, entering his first short into a film fest at 15. His 2004 feature debut, wry teen romantic comedy “Promedio rojo,” was a hit that spawned tie-ins, including a book, T-shirts and a soundtrack.

Matias Lira
UCLA film school grad Lira is back in Chile wearing two caps as a helmer and partner in indie distrib BF Films. His feature debut, the provocative menage-a-trois pic “Drama” screened well at Slamdance and will be selling at the Cannes Market. Lira, 35, is prepping road movie “Qhapaq,” docu “Victor” and TV skein “Los Leones.”

Marialy Rivas
Rivas, 34, is in post on her feature debut “Young and Wild,” but she’s no stranger to Cannes. Her short, “Blokes,” competed last year and was snapped up by Canal Plus Spain. Rivas, a TV ad helmer for the past seven years, credits her producers, the Larrain brothers of powerhouse shingle Fabula, for deftly steering her through her first feature.

Alicia Scherson
Scherson, who first made waves in 2005 with her romantic dramedy “Play,” has another project stirring major interest, “The Future” (working title), based on “Una Novelita Lumpen,” a novella by cult author Roberto Bolano (“2666”). Germany’s Pandora Films boarded pic not long after it was unveiled at Berlin’s co-production mart. Aside from a degree in biology, Scherson studied filmmaking at Cuban film school EICTV and earned an MFA from U. of Illinois in Chicago.

Sebastian Silva
Silva, 32, snagged a number of top awards for his sophomore pic “The Maid,” which deftly applied the tautness of a thriller to a deceptively mundane family drama. That skill has been put to good use in upcoming projects he has helmed, including HBO’s 10-episode dark comedy skein “The Boring Life of Jacqueline,” based on his scripts. He is now prepping English-lingo psychological thriller “Magic, Magic” for a summer shoot. “Gatos viejos” (Old Cats)has been selected for Cannes’ ACID 2011 program.

Andres Wood
Born in 1965, Wood holds his own against thirtysomething upstarts in Chile. As a producer, helmer and scribe, he’s made some of the most emblematic pics from Chile, starting with his debut pic “Soccer Stories” in 1997 and one of the highest-grossing domestic pics ever, “Machuca” (2004). He’s now in post with his latest opus, “Violeta,” a biopic based on Angel Parra’s biography of Chilean folksinger Violeta Parra. Wood has a degree in economics and studied film at NYU film school.

Spotlight: Chile:
Chile pics heat up abroad | Fresh faces | Slate sampler

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