A first look at the poster of the film which Venice director Alberto Barbera singled out as “the big discovery” of this year’s festival: “El cristo ciego” (“The Blind Christ”), from Chile’s Christopher Murray (pictured, right).
Produced by Chile’s Jirafa Films and France’s CineSud Promotion, “The Blind Christ” is not Murray’s first feature: Straight off college, he co-directed with Pablo Carrera “Manuel de Ribera,” produced by Bruno Bettati when at Jirafa, which already hints at “The Blind Christ” in its mix of professional actors and non-pro locals, “spectacular locations” and “the mood of a fable” as Variety described “Manuel de Ribera,” praising an an “impressive” feature debut the tale of a man who wants to develop an island he’s inherited.
In “The Blind Christ,” Murray looks set to up the ante. His second fiction feature is sold worldwide by Film Factory, one of the biggest sales agents in the Spanish-speaking world, in a two-pic deal with Jirafa. “The Blind Christ” also world premieres in competition at this year’s Venice Festival, which runs Aug. 31 to Sept 10.
Shifting the setting from “Manuel de Ribera’s” Chilean archipelago to the dirt-poor desert of Chile’s North, “The Blind Christ” begins with a villager, Michael who, believing he is a Christ, sets out on a barefoot pilgrimage across the desert to perform his first miracle, curing a dying friend.
“The voyage will traverse the desperation of a society in need of faith,” the film’s production notes read.
“It’s a surprising debut, influenced by Pasolini but with a marvellous expressive strength of its own,” Barbera told Screen Daily.
Barbara added: “Murray’s talent for image composition is striking and the film’s narrative quality is one like we’ve never seen. He is an auteur and everyone will see it.” [Scroll down to continue reading.]
‘The Blind Christ’ is ‘the big discovery’ of Venice
Developed at Cannes’ Cinefondation, the Torino Film Lab and Rotterdam’s Cinemart and produced by Jirafa’s Augusto Matte and Thierry Lenouvel at CineSud Promotion, “The Blind Christ” also offers a way into the social realities of Chile’s North, Murray himself argues.
“The Blind Chist” is “a unique story about a young man trying to overcome a harsh reality through the use of a miracle and about the way in which communities are able to find meaning through his journey,” according to Murray.
He continued: “In pondering faith, we can uncover the social conflicts that have historically plagued us as a country and society,” in the case of Chile’s north its impoverishment at the hands of multinational companies which have ravaged its natural resources.
“In order to penetrate the country’s conflict,” all the actors are real locals who share their stories in the film, Murray said. Cast’s only professional is lead Michael Silva, best known to Chileans as a star of TV series “Sudamerican Rockers.” As “The Blind Christ’s” poster suggests, however, Silva has both the mien of a biblical character and a sense of strong humanity. Poster’s log-line, “Let me tell you a story,” hints at the power of storytelling as a central theme of the film.
Just how that plays out, however, will be seen in Venice where “The Blind Christ” will be one of two Chilean films in competition on this year’s Lido – with Pablo Larrain’s Natalie Portman-starrer “Jackie” – a historical record for Chile, a country which over the last decade has punched far above its weight when it comes to cinema.