As the only Latin American film to participate in the European Film Market’s Co-Production Market, Chilean filmmaker Fernando Guzzoni’s “Land of Savages” (“La Tierra de los Salvajes”) is a breed apart.
“With this new genre film, we seek to connect with a wider global audience,” said producer Rocio Jadue of Fábula (“A Fantastic Woman”), who describes the film as a cross between a Western and a thriller.
“Fernando is a director who, since his debut [“Dog Flesh,” which snagged San Sebastian’s New Directors Prize in 2012], has managed to win over audiences at the most prestigious film festivals; he’s an interesting talent for Fábula and with this new project, we plan to take the next step in his career with him,” she added.
Guzzoni wrote his first two features, “Dog Flesh” and “Jesus,” on his own but “Land of Savages” is the first screenplay he is co-writing, now on its final draft, with prominent Chilean playwright Pablo Manzi. “We were drawn to each other’s works as we both deal with similar themes: corruption in politics, classism, the double morality standards of people in power, among other things,” he said.
Set in a fictitious Latin American country in the 19th century, “Land of Savages” centers on a prominent slave owner who when faced with challenges to his domain, goes to great lengths to preserve it.
“The central theme of the film crosses cultures and languages and has recently acquired new relevance due to the events of social discrimination in various parts of the world,” Jadue noted.
On a macro level, “Land of Savages” is a reflection on the eradication of the black/slave populations in Southern American countries like Chile, Peru and Argentina where a white, Euro-centric population now dominates their societies, said Guzzoni.
Guzzoni pointed out that this prejudice against Black people continues to this day. Chile, for one, has been experiencing an influx of Haitians the past five years, lured by the country’s relative economic stability. However, these new emigrants have faced growing xenophobia with thousands being deported en masse by the Chilean government.
“If there’s a thru line among my films, they make you reflect on painful truths and complex issues,” he mused.
Guzzoni hopes to film “Land of Savages” by late 2022. He is now in pre-production on his next film, urban drama “Blanquita,” which is slated to shoot by June or July in Santiago.