With his new political thriller “Arana” (“Spider”), Chile’s Andres Wood traces the roots of the ultra-nationalist movement that led to Salvador Allende’s downfall and the rise of military dictator General Augusto Pinochet.
He represents Chile at the Best International Feature Oscar race for the third time with “Araña.”
The drama turns on Inés, Justo and Gerardo who belong to an extreme nationalist group that aims to overthrow Allende’s Marxist government in the early 70s. Amid the fervor of this conflict, they get entangled in a love triangle and commit a political crime that separates Gerardo from the other two until he reappears 40 years later, bent on reviving the nationalist cause.
Wood made his stamp on the international festival circuit with a string of hits, including “Machuca,” which premiered at Cannes’ Directors’ Fortnight in 2004; “La Fiebre del Loco (2001), Official Selection at the a Venice and Toronto Film Festivals; “La Buena Vida” (2008, Goya Award winner); and “Violeta Went to Heaven” (2011, winner of the World Cinema Grand Jury Prize at Sundance in 2012). He has also directed television series, among them the mini-series “Ramona” and “Ecos del Desierto.”
Vicente Canales’ Film Factory Entertainment handles the international sales of “Araña,” with the exception of the Americas, where 20th Century Fox distributes.
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Wood spoke to Variety about “Araña,” which screens Monday Dec.3 at Ventana Sur.
With “Araña” you have represented Chile three times at the Oscars, which began with “Machuca” (2004) and secondly with “Violeta Went to Heaven” (2011). What do you think are the similarities among them? Conversely, what sets them apart?
I have a hard time looking at my movies objectively so I’d rather leave that to others. What’s interesting is the context in which they were chosen and reflects the evolution of Chile’s small film industry. ‘Machuca’ was selected by a committee of six to seven people while “Araña” was chosen by a group of more than 100 people from across the audiovisual industry, from crew members to creative talent and professionals.
What motivated you to make “Araña,” which you co-wrote with Guillermo Calderon (“Neruda,” “The Club”)?
At first, I was interested in pondering what happened to the members of the ultra-nationalist group that plotted against the Allende government in the 70s. Then I later felt it was important to bring other historical viewpoints to the discussion. And lastly, I wanted to partly describe the dichotomy that we face as a society where horror and love intersect on a daily basis.
Is it safe to say that most of your films touch on the political turmoil of Pinochet’s military regime? Do you think the trauma of this period continues to reverberate today?
It would be a challenge to make a Chilean film set after the ‘70s without touching on the years of dictatorship in Chile and how it continues to reverberate today. What was planted during the dictatorship continues to explain much of how Chile is today. Hopefully, the long overdue change in our constitution, which was drafted during the dictatorship, will bring some change to our society.
The women in your films are intelligent and fierce. Who are the women in your life who have inspired your female characters?
I can say that I have been lucky to have, in different stages of my life, my grandmother, mother, sister, partners, daughters, friends, etc. from whom I have learned and continue to learn and be surprised. The feminine gaze is more interesting than what we consider, at least in Chile, the masculine point of view