‘The Snatch Thief’ Nabs Top Prizes at 14th Santiago International Film Festival

Paraguay’s Marcelo Martinessi wins best director for his latest pic, ‘The Heiresses.'

SANTIAGO, Chile –- The second feature from Argentina’s Agustín Tsocano, “The Snatch Thief,” was the big winner at this year’s Santiago International Film Festival (Sanfic), snagging best picture and two best actor plaudits.

The closing ceremonies were held Saturday night at Chile’s CorpArtes Cultural Center.

The Argentina, Uruguay and France co-production, sold by The Match Factory, participated in this year’s Directors’ Fortnight at Cannes, where the tale of a guilt-ridden purse snatcher received unanimous strong reviews, including one by Variety’s Jay Weissberg who described it as a “a nicely plotted, unpretentious film… exactly the type of small-scale Latin American indie product that sees significant festival play.”

Marcelo Martinessi, one of Paraguay’s most high-profile filmmakers, won best director for his latest feature “The Heiresses,” which won the Silver Bear for best picture at Berlin in February. Eliran Elya’s “Doubtful” received a special mention.

In the Chilean competition, Nicolás Molina’s documentary “Flow,” paralleling the cultural significance of Chile’s Biobío River and the Ganges in India, won best picture. Best director went to debut director Simón Vargas for his work “About the Dead,” a tale of two ghosts wrestling with their new reality in the afterlife. Two films featuring mothers struggling to raise their children in adverse circumstances, Marcela Gueny’s “Greenhouse” and Diego Céspedes’ “The Summer of the Electric Lion” – the winner at Cannes Cinéfondation – received recognition in the short film competition.

“My section was outstanding; a lot of talented new directors are coming up,” said FiGa Films’ Sandro Fiorin, a juror in the Chilean Short Film competition. “Chile is hot!” he exclaimed.

The 6th Sanfic industry awards, doled out by a slew of film festivals, post-production services and markets saw Colombia’s David David [sic] scoop up two awards for his topical debut feature “La Frontera” (“The Border”), a Work in Progress (WIP) entry.

Shot at the Venezuelan-Colombian border, “La Frontera” turns on a pregnant indigenous woman who is forced to fend for herself when her husband and her brother are killed. WIP Juror Charles Tesson, Cannes Critics’ Week artistic director, described it as a “sensitive film whose characters, especially its protagonist, represent the strength of women in a reality rarely examined in Colombian cinema.”

David took home the coveted Chemistry prize, worth $50,000 in post-production services, and another from the Malaga Festival, which invites him to participate in its Work in Progress sidebar in March 2019.

“When we harmonize with nature, we tend to establish fair relationships with our peers because we understand the healthy balance that involves giving and receiving,” David told Variety. “The region where this story takes place lacks this healthy balance because it’s been exploited and neglected for many years. When there is exploitation without retribution, instability prevails and human relations are dominated by arbitrariness and yoke,” he continued.

Hailed by the WIP jury for its “original, poetic vision,” “Sirena” by Bolivia’s Carlos Piñeiro snagged post production sound services from Chile’s Yagan Films, valued at $23,500. “Oftentimes, these platforms are the only way we can advance our projects,” said a visibly moved Piñeiro, in reference to the dearth of state support in Bolivia.

“Sirena” and Avid Composing Licensing awardee “El Principe” by Sebastián Muñoz of Chile are both participating in the upcoming San Sebastián Int’l Film Festival.

Produced by StoryBoard Media’s Carlos Nuñez and Gabriela Sandoval, Sanfic artistic director and industry head respectively, the festival is riding on a wave of optimism spurred by the growing international recognition of Chile’s cinema. Sebastian Lelio’s Best Foreign Oscar win for “A Fantastic Woman” was among more than 80 prizes Chilean films have picked up in the international film circuit this year.

Nuñez said: “Our goal is to continue improving our programming with more world and Latin American premieres as well as to forge more strategic alliances with key festivals around the world.”

Santiago International Film Festival 2018 Winners:

International Competition

Best Picture

“The Snatch Thief,” (Agustín Toscano, Argentina, Uruguay, France)

Best Director

Marcelo Martinessi, “The Heiresses” (Paraguay, Germany, Brazil, Uruguay, Norway, France)

Best Actor

Liliana Juárez, “The Snatch Thief”

Sergio Prina, “The Snatch Thief”

Special Mention

“Doubtful,” (Eliran Elya, Israel)

Chilean Competition

Best Picture

“Flow,” (Nicolás Molina)

Best Director

Simon Vargas, “About the Dead”

Best Actor

Berta Lasala, “Perkin”

Best Short

“Greenhouse,” (Marcela Gueny)

Best Short, Special Mention

“The Summer of the Electric Lion,” (Diego Céspedes)

Industry Awards

Works in Progress

Malaga Festival Award

“The Border,” (David David, Colombia)

Chemistry Award

“The Border,” (David David, Colombia)

Yagan Films Award

“Sirena,” (Carlos E. Piñero, Bolivia)

Avid Composer Licensing Award

“The Prince,” (Sebastián Muñoz, Chile, Argentina)

Kinêma Award

“Cielo,” (Alison McAlpine, Canada, Chile)

Santiago Lab

Finis Tarrae University Screenplay Award

“Violent Youth,” (Javier Sinclair, Chile).

Cali Producers’ Award

“Without Soledad,” (Valentina Arango, Chile)

Malaga Festival Award

“The End of Distance,” (Claudio Marcone, Chile)

Postón Prize

“28,” (Sandra Arriagada, Gigi Saul, Lisi Kiesling, Chile, Mexico, Spain, Argentina,


Cinema Chile Award

“The Yellow Fever,” (Pablo Gutiérrez, Chile)

Guadalajara Ibero-American Co-production Award

“Motín,” (Claudia Huaiquimilla, Chile)

Blood Window Award

“A Safe Place,” (María Paz Godoy, Chile)

Cartagena International Film Festival Award

“Going Back Home,” (Valeria Hofmann, Catalina Alarcón, Chile)

LatAm Cinema + Filma Bags Award

“House of the Rising Sun,” (Orlando Cuzat, Colombia)

Tribeca Award

“Still Stares,” (Patricia Correa, Chile)

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