‘Flow’ Creators Discuss Their Sanfic Chilean Competition Winner

The film, a fortunate byproduct of a young married couple’s vacation to India, was selected as the best domestic offering at this year’s fest

SANTIAGO, Chile — Director Nicolas Molina’s latest documentary “Flow” came into the Santiago International Film Festival (Sanfic) with plenty of buzz off its official selection and world premiere at this year’s Sheffield Doc Fest, and left with the event’s best picture award for a Chilean film.

“Flow” parallels the geographical and cultural significance of India and Chile’s most important rivers, the Ganges and the Biobío. The film follows each river, starting at their sources, and works its way down through the mountains and the small villages they’ve spawned, eventually passing through major metropolitan areas and emptying into the sea.

It’s a film as much about contrasting a number of vastly different cultures, as it is about demonstrating universal human behaviors and attitudes on opposite sides of the world.

Alongside Molina the entire time has been his producer and wife Marcela Santibañez, who handled sound as well. The film came to be as something of an accident, when the two were on vacation in India and became enamored with the people and customs they witnessed there.

The couple are now preparing to screen the film at next month’s Docs Barcelona Valparaíso festival, and are currently looking for other festival participation. The win at Sanfic is sure to help secure further attention.

Chilean distribution is being handled by Bruno Bettati at Jirafa Distribución, with the film’s domestic premiere scheduled for March 26 of next year.

At Sanfic Molina and Santibañez talked with Variety about the film and its unexpected origin.

Where did the idea for “Flow” come from?

Santibañez: The motivation to make “Flow” was pure love of adventure and making movies. In 2015 Nico and I had the opportunity to take a long trip through India. In the village of Mukhawa, the first village on the Ganges River in the Himalayas, we noticed a similarity to the inhabitants of the foothills of Chile. The structure of this mountain range and the way it lived gave us the strength to make a film, and changed the purpose of that trip. For two months we documented the Ganges from its source in the Gangotri glacier, to its mouth in the Bay of Bengal; Nico with the camera and me handling sound.

After returning to Chile, we set out to replicate the same exploratory process, through a transcendental river in the culture and history of our country: the. We spent another month traveling this region, just the two of us and our equipment.

What did you learn while making this film that surprised you?

Molina: There were two kinds of learning: one at the content level and another at the production level. With content, we learned a lot about both civilizations in a very intimate way. We learned to interact with very diverse people, who opened the doors to their homes and allowed us to access very intimate worlds. It was a very rich experience on a human level, which allowed us to know both territories on a very personal level. At production level, we learned what it is to make a movie with minimum resources. We didn’t have any financing, and being such a personal film it was often difficult for us to get support. But we learned to overcome this and advance the film anyway. The beauty of this process is that the project became very intimate, very personal, and allowed us to have enormous creative freedom.

What was your experience or knowledge of these two rivers before you started filming?

Molina: Before filming the movie we didn’t know much about either river. With the Ganges we knew its importance from books we’d read, or friends who had visited. But it was our first time there, so the filming also reflects the discovery we were experiencing ourselves. Everything was new for us, and I think that search and surprise to see a place for the first time, somehow also translates to the screen. With the Biobio, it was similar.

Who is your intended audience for “Flow”? What do you hope they take away from the experience?

Molina: I believe that “Flow” will appeal to a more cinephile audience that is willing to enjoy a new experience in the cinema. People who have seen it have described it as a meditative film, and I think that definition does well. It’s like an experience, a sensory journey. It’s not a difficult film; in fact it’s the other way around. I think it’s a pretty entertaining and somewhat light film. It is full of humor, music and beautiful landscapes. Which is why I really think it’s a movie to relax and enjoy.

CREDIT: Maracela Santibañez

More Film

  • BAFTA Backs BIFA’s Unconscious-Bias Training for

    BIFA’s Unconscious-Bias Training Rolls Out to BAFTA Voters, Wider Industry (EXCLUSIVE)

    The British Independent Film Awards is opening up its unconscious-bias training to BAFTA voters and, more widely, to anyone who judges the work of others in the film and TV business in the U.K. With the makeup of award-nominee and -winner lists under close scrutiny, BIFA introduced its unconscious-bias training last year. Its voters, jurors, [...]

  • Instinct

    Carice van Houten's 'Instinct' Picked Up By Films Boutique (EXCLUSIVE)

    Berlin-based international sales agent Films Boutique has picked up psychological thriller “Instinct,” starring Carice van Houten, who received an Emmy nomination Tuesday for “Game of Thrones,” and Marwan Kenzari, recently seen in Guy Ritchie’s “Aladdin.” “Instinct” has its world premiere on the Piazza Grande at the Locarno Film Festival next month. “Instinct,” the directorial debut [...]

  • If Only - Ginevra Elkann

    Locarno Announces Edgy Mix of Premieres, Joseph Gordon-Levitt Thriller '7500'

    Italian director Ginevra Elkann’s directorial debut, “If Only,” about kids with divorced parents, will open the 72nd Locarno Film Festival, its first edition under new artistic director Lili Hinstin, who has assembled an edgy mix of promising titles from young auteurs and more established names. “If Only” and the fest closer, iconic Japanese director Kiyoshi [...]

  • Jody Madden Replaces Craig Rodgerson as

    Jody Madden Replaces Craig Rodgerson as CEO of VFX Firm Foundry

    Jody Madden has been upped to CEO at U.K.-based VFX outfit Foundry. She steps up fromchief product officer and replaces Craig Rodgerson, who joined the company in late 2017. Foundry was bought by U.S. tech firm Roper Technologies earlier this year in a £410 million ($509 million) deal. The London-based business provides software and technology [...]

  • The Lion King

    ‘The Lion King’ Tops Studios’ TV Ad Spending

    In this week’s edition of the Variety Movie Commercial Tracker, powered by the always-on TV ad measurement and attribution company iSpot.tv, Walt Disney Pictures claims the top spot in spending with “The Lion King.” Ads placed for the remake had an estimated media value of $5.64 million through Sunday for 1,290 national ad airings on [...]

  • Beyonce poses for photographers upon arrival

    Beyoncé Releases Music Video for 'Spirit,' Her 'Lion King' Soundtrack Contribution

    Beyoncé fans are stampeding across the web veldt to get a look at her just-released music video for “Spirit,” the original song she co-wrote and sang for the “Lion King” soundtrack. The track is also included on the companion album she executive-produced and will release Friday, “The Gift.” Clips from the computer-animated film are interspersed [...]

  • Constance Wu and Jennifer Lopez star

    Jennifer Lopez Takes Down Wall Street Crooks in New Trailer for 'Hustlers'

    According to Jennifer Lopez, basic pole dancing movements all revolve around a few foot positions. But as she tells her stripper student Constance Wu, it’s not just about the dancing. In the new trailer for “Hustlers,” Lopez and Wu swindle a number of high profile Wall Street clients in an effort to bring their white [...]

More From Our Brands

Access exclusive content