Winners of an Annecy Animation Festival best feature jury distinction, Chile’s Cristóbal León and Joaquín Cociña (“The Wolf House”) have wrapped shooting on a new short, “The Bones,” a stop-motion piece for adult audiences with a bold auteur aim.
“Bones” is produced by Lucas Engel’s new company Pista B in co-production with Diluvio (“The Wolf House,” Niles Atallah’s “Rey”). Director Ari Aster (“Midsommar,” “Hereditary”) and Adam Butterfield are executive producing the short. It will be ready to premiere in the second half of this year.
“With ‘La Casa Lobo’ (‘The Wolf House’), Cociña and León struck me as the clear successors to Jan Svankmajer and the Quays,” Aster told Variety of his decision to board the film. “Here they seem to be channeling Ladislas Starevich and Joel-Peter Witkin, while sharpening their uncanny and unmistakable signature. ‘Los Huesos’ is a brilliant film by two utterly singular filmmakers.”
American composer and charismatic violinist Tim Fain created the film’s original score and sound design. Fain is known for his musical performances in Darren Aronofsky’s “Black Swan,” in which he also co-arranged the onscreen music, and his work with legendary composer Philip Glass. Fain also worked with composer Nicholas Britell on Barry Jenkins’ “Moonlight.”
“The Bones” is a dive into recent Chilean history just as the country is drafting a new constitution to replace the current document, which was passed during Augusto Pinochet’s brutal dictatorship. It will be the first time since 1833 that the Chilean constitution will be written by a citizen convention elected by popular vote. The new Constitution must be approved by a plebiscite in 2022.
“The Bones”’ premise is a callback to the world’s supposed first stop-motion animated film. Dated 1901 and excavated in Chile in 2021, the 16mm footage documents a ritual in which a young indigenous girl uses human bones to summon the spirits of the two best known ideologues of conservative Chilean values – founding father Diego Portales and close Pinochet collaborator Jaime Guzmán – to “unwrite” history.
Shot in black and white on celluloid film, or at least a convincing recreation, Fain’s score and sound design are clipped with a out-of-tune distortion that lends to the film’s antique authenticity, while also enhancing the supernatural feel of the girl’s incantations.
León and Cociña are also working on their second feature film. It is currently titled “Los Ángeles” and “will be a mixture of puppets, animation, sets and one actor (Antonia Giesen). This film will be a way of dialoguing with the tradition of science fiction and adventure films, but from the world of Chile and South America,” Cociña said.
León added: “We want to reimagine those traditions. What if an adventure film from the ‘50s that imagines VR gets itself stuck in a virtual world and dissolves into that reality?”