MAR DEL PLATA – A name helmer, and part of Latin America’s build in distaff directors, Chile’s Dominga Sotomayor (“Thursday Till Sunday,” “Mar”) is set to produce Felipe Galvez’s historical drama“Los colonos” (“The Settlers”), one of the most ambitious film projects presented over the last three days at Mar del Plata’s inaugural LoboLab co-production forum and its eventual winner. Matias Hernandez will also produce for Cinestacion.
“The Settlers” won first prize in October at the Valdivia Fest’s 3rd Feature Development Competition.
Made under the strong influence of John Ford’s “The Searchers,” Galvez said at LoboLab, “The Settlers,” which is set in 1905, lifts the lid on the slaughter of Chile’s indigenous population by European emigrants of humble origin.
“This is the unknown history of Chile. It’s not in the history books. We’re really interested in showing violence, but going back before Pinochet’s dictatorship, showing the origins of Chile,” said Sotomayor.
Set up at Sotomayor’s production shingle Cinestacion, which she runs with two partners, “The Settlers” turns on a chilote, a derogative term like “half-caste,” of Mapuche and Spanish descent, who joins a scientific and administrative expedition, building fences which set limits on settlers’ farmland, in order to win the hand of a young German woman he’s in love with. The expedition soon turns into a violent manhunt of the Ona people.
Two ideas permeate “The Settlers,” said Galvez, who is writing the screenplay.
“It’s a love story, but also about people who are aspiring to climb the social ladder and when that happens people can make quite radical decisions. The Europeans think they’re superior to the chilote,” he added.
“People talk about the English or French as creating colonies. But Chileans did the same,” he argued.
“The Settlers” will initially have audiences rooting for him as he attempts to conquer the woman he’s in love with. He is a young guy, begins as a kind of hero, then exterminates people. The film not only shows violence but also, because we’ve empathized with him, make us feel a responsibility for it,” Sotomayor observed.
“The film has generated a lot of interest,” said Sotomayor, suggesting she would like to set it up as a Latin American co-production.
At Cinestacion, Sotomayor is also producing “1976,” the feature directorial debut of actress-turned director Manuela Martelli (“Machuca”), about a woman who senses that life has passed her by and decides to take control of it, planning her own death.
The Santiago de Chile shingle has just produced its first international co-production, “The Last Land,” the debut of Paraguayan Pablo Lamar, produced for Cinestacion by Sotomayor and edited by Galvez, about a man accompanying his dying wife, and then burying her. Paraguay’s Sapukai Cine and the Netherlands’ Fortuna Films, headed by Ilse Hughan, produce.