The extraordinary success of Chilean filmmakers will be celebrated in the 2019 Week of Chilean Cinema, which launches in Madrid, then travels to Paris and Berlin. The week offers a larger narrative: the Chileans have won more awards, festival acclaim and global box office in the past decade than any other filmmaking industry in all of Latin America.
Backed by Pablo and Juan de Dios Larraín, Sebastián Lelio and a who’s who of Chilean cineasts who will conduct Q&As after screenings, the Week also celebrates 10 years of CinemaChile, the producer-backed international film-TV promotion org.
Titles will play May 30-June 2 at Madrid’s Golem Cinema arthouse over, then June 5-9 at Cinematheque Française and finally June 19-23 at Berlin’s Babylon Kino, another iconic arthouse. A fourth strand will unspool in a “surprise” city, says CinemaChile executive director Constanza Arena.
Chosen by programmers at the Sundance, Tribeca and Toronto festivals among others, from titles bowing at the world’s biggest fests, the Week targets Europe given it’s “our principal market in box office terms,” says Arena.
A CinemaChile’s study of 2013 releases, led by “Gloria,” suggested indeed that Europe accounted for 62% of its international box office.
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The Week is a “lovely way of celebrating 10 years of good films and 10 years of good promotion,” says San Sebastian Festival director José Luis Rebordinos.
“If you don’t have good films, you can’t make a good promotion. But if you do, you may and may not promote them well. CinemaChile has really worked its materials well, and that means its films has been present in big festivals.”
Framing the best Chilean fiction feature of each year over the past decade, according to the programers’ votes, the keynote of the selection is “its diversity of voices,” says Fabula’s Juan de Dios Larraín, producer of four titles in the Week: “No,” “Gloria,” “The Club” and “A Fantastic Woman.”
“To Kill a Man” questions the psychology of classic Hollywood revenge thrillers; “No” chronicles how advertising proved stronger than dictatorship, ousting Augusto Pinochet from power; “The Club” skewers the lack of accountability of the present-day Catholic Church. “Jesus” charts a generational gulf between a directionless son and died-in-the-wool father.
“The films are highly contemporary, studying a society and its sufferings,” Arena says, citing the societal gulf seen in several: “The Maid,” “To Kill a Man,” “Jesus.”
Six of the 10 titles turn on women, whether their bittersweet coming-of-age (“Too Late to Die Young”) and fading dreams (“Lucía”), need for respect (“A Fantastic Woman”), for love (“Violeta,” “Gloria”) or the sociopathy of submission (“The Maid”).
“There’s a pattern, but little repetition;f the directors have discovered genuine narratives,” say Larraín.
There is also a sense of growth, of “a building body of quality work,” says Andrés Wood. Produced by Forastero, “The Maid” scored a Golden Globe nomination; Wood’s “Violeta Went to Heaven,” a humanizing portrait of protest song legend Violeta Parra, and “To Kill a Man” won at Sundance; “No” won at Cannes’ Directors’ Fortnight before snagging an Oscar nomination. “Gloria” and “The Club” took prizes in the main competition at Berlin. “A Fantastic Woman” won an Oscar.
Abroad, B.O. for Chilean movies has grown, galvanized by results for “Gloria” ($9 million in global revenue, per Rentrak) and 2012’s “No” ($10.3 million), a Funny Balloons title.
“Chilean cinema is fruit of an evolution that we’ve seen in part of Latin American cinema,” says Rebordinos, from a “very interesting but sometimes very hermetic auteurist cinema” of the 1990s and beginning of the following decade to “one which still explores new narrative or thematic paths but has a certain capacity to reach broader audiences.”
“These directors didn’t create by moved with the idea of making audience hits,” Larrain says. “The directors have developed their craft, connecting via their treatment of an idea, a point of view. The films are narrative hits.”
Other directors, having scored festival successes, are now making the same move, looking for larger scale, without in any way abandoning any of their high artistic ambitions. Set in a rural community of artists in the lap of the Andes, “Too Late to Die Young,” which has a market screening at Berlin, is shot on a far larger canvas than Dominga Sotomayor’s breakthrough debut, “Thursday Till Sunday.” It uses multiple camera set-ups that are almost pictorial in style, with action occupying much of the mid ground and background.
“I’m exploring a free and open form, close to the very nature of this community near to the mountains, far from limits and definitions,” Sotomayor says.
Another case in point, and also at the 2019 Berlin Festival: “The Hunt for the Puma,” selected for this year’s Berlinale Co-production Market.
The third fiction feature from Marcela Said is a psychological thriller. “The Hunt” will be bigger, shoot in English, possibly with “A” cast, and is being developed by France’s Cinema Defacto and the U.K.’s Protagonist Pictures, which is financing development and will handle international sales, says Cinema Defacto producer Sophie Erbs.
A €4 million ($5 million) target budget “leaves us some artistic liberty and on the other hand, increasing the budget, allows us to achieve higher production values and to open up to audiences,” she adds.
Wood now has his latest, “Araña,” a political thriller and another step-up in scale, in post-production. The building of modern Chilean cinema looks far from done.
PICK OF THE PICS AT BERLINALE
Co-produced by Chile’s Jirafa, the Sundance hit, directed by Brazil’s Mascaro, plays Panorama. In 2027, a a devout divorcee attempts to navigate the country in which evangelism rules amid disco hymns, drive-in confessionals and pregnancy detectors. Sales: Memento
The first feature from Juricic, winner of a 2015 Cannes Queer Palme for “Lost Queens,” centers on a woman who debates whether to go on TV to discuss the murder of her LGBT daughter. Sales: FiGa Films
A Golden Shotgun
A drama in development at Chile’s Araucaria Cine, Panchito Films and Brazil’s Syndrome, co-producer of 2018 Critics’ Week winner “Diamantino.” A young man tries to sell the family home to settle his late mother’s debts over the housekeeper’s objections. Selected for the Berlinale Co-production Market.
A wry comedic ode to male friendship and budding adulthood directed by Villalobos (“All About the Feathers”) and co-produced by Chile’s Cinestación. Co-developed at Cannes’ Cinefondation Residence, world premiered in Toronto 2018. Sales: Visit Films
The Hunt for the Puma
Said’s first English-language film is script-edited by “A Fantastic Woman’s” co-writer Gonzalo Maza. The psychological survival thriller centers on two estranged couples, one English, one French, lost in the Patagonian Forest, forced to depend on their wits and one another. From France’s Cinema Defacto and the U.K.’s Protagonist Pictures, a potential Berlinale Co-production Market standout.
The third feature from Amoedo, a co-scribe on Eli Roth’s “The Green Inferno” and “Knock, Knock,” is released by Pantelion in the U.S. and sold to multiple major territories. Sales: FilmSharks Intl.
Joanna Reposi Garibaldi
Reposi taps archival footage, photos and home videos spanning eight years to compose a portrait of Chilean author, LGBTQ activist, artist and icon Pedro Lemebel. World premiering in Panorama. A Docs in Progress winner in 2018 Vision Du Réel. Miradoc distributes in Chile. Sales agent: Compañia de Cine
Nona, If They Soak Me, I’ll Burn Them
Camila José Donoso
Another fiction-fact hybrid from Donoso (“Naomi Campbell”), featuring her own mother and grandmother, turning on a 66-year-old retiree attempting to reinvent herself in a small coastal town. A Rotterdam Tiger competition title
A ’70s-set homoerotic prison drama based on a low-circulated pulp novel from that decade, tracking the sexual, often-violent and eventually murderous experiences of 20-something narcissist Jaime. Sales: Patra Spanou.
A box office hit in Italy, the Sacher Films, Rai Cinema, Le Pacte and StoryBoard Media co-production relates how the Italian embassy hosted hundreds of asylum seekers after the General Pinochet-led coup in 1973. Closed the 2018 Torino Film Festival. Sales: Le Pacte
Too Late to Die Young
Sotomayor won the directing prize at Locarno with this pic set in 1990 in an ecological community. It is a portrait of a two teens and indeed a nation in uncertain transition, Variety wrote in its Locarno review. “A satisfying sensorial work,” it added.
A Western thriller in development, co-produced by Chile’s Pequen Prods., about siblings facing personal issues and a looming storm that threatens their crops. Seeking state funding and European co-producers.
Compiled by John Hopewell, Anna Marie de la Fuente and Jamie Lang