SANTIAGO DE CHILE — Spanish actress Maribel Verdu is the toast of the 14th Santiago Int’l Film Festival (Sanfic), which pays homage to her stunning 30-year career in the entertainment biz. Speaking at a press conference Tuesday, Verdu took gleeful charge of the event from the get-go, introducing “fellow guests” festival co-directors Carlos Nunez and Gabriela Sandoval as well as Francisca Florenzano, head of fest organizer CorpArtes Foundation, who flanked her at the podium.
Verdu, who has the distinction of being the most nominated actress in the history of Spain’s Goya Awards (11) and the winner of two, has been a tour de force in Spain’s film and TV industry, having worked with most of the leading lights in the Ibero-American film industry and starred in Oscar-nominated or winning gems led by Guillermo del Toro’s 2006 dark fantasy “Pan’s Labyrinth” and Alfonso Cuaron’s 2001 coming-of-age road movie “Y Tu Mama Tambien.”
The festival has organized a retrospective of her most notable films, including her career-launching turn in Vicente Aranda’s 1991 drama “Amantes,” Fernando Trueba’s Foreign-Language Oscar-winning “Belle Epoque,” and the late Chilean director Ricardo Larrain’s 1998 drama, “El Entusiasmo.”
Verdu fielded a range of queries, mostly about her views of Chilean cinema, the #Metoo movement, Hollywood and her future plans.
She lauded the new heights scaled by Chilean cinema on the world stage and hoped to work in Chile again where she has received new offers. “Chilean cinema is in an incredible place now,” she exclaimed.
Reflecting on the diversity of roles she has played, she mused, “These women have all had one thing in common, a bestial strength.”
Asked why she hasn’t worked in Hollywood, especially after the box office success of “Y Tu Mama Tambien,” she summed up her response in one word: “Cowardice.” “I need to feel embraced by the cast and crew, interact with everyone, be part of a family; I’ve heard that it can be quite lonely in Hollywood, it’s tough,” she explained. “I don’t want to leave my comfort zone,” she said, adding that she just received a couple of offers, to her amazement.
On the #MeToo movement, Verdu expressed her hope that it would keep advancing and that more women landed jobs in all fields of the entertainment industry until it wouldn’t be an issue anymore. She declined to comment on disgraced Chilean director Nicolas Lopez, facing harassment allegations, whose comedy “No Filter” was remade by Spain’s Santiago Seguro and in which she starred.
Ever busy, Verdu listed a number of films that are set for release in the fall (“Ola de Crimenes,” “Superlopez”), and said she was keen to work in television once more, given the growing excellence in quality and the leading presence of streaming giants such as Netflix. “Now the episodes on these new series are 45 mins long at most and each episode is a gem,” she said. “I can now say I am completely open to working in television again,” she said, adding that she is currently weighing some offers.