‘A Fantastic Woman’s’ Sebastián Lelio Backs New Doc on Chileans Blinded by Police (EXCLUSIVE)

Cristian Leighton, Gabriela Sandoval, Sebastian Lelio
Courtesy of Storyboard Media/Billy Kidd

Academy Award winner Sebastián Lelio (“A Fantastic Woman”) has signed on to associate produce “El Porvenir de la Mirada,” a doc feature that captures the trauma of young protesters shot in the eyes by Chilean police during massive demonstrations erupting in Chile in October 2019.

Lelio’s boarding “El Porvenir de la Mirada” marks his return to his native Chile after movies with Rachel Weisz and Rachel McAdams (“Disobedience”) and Julianne Moore (“Gloria Bell”).

Produced by Gabriela Sandoval and Carlos Núñez at Storyboard Media (“Santiago, Italia,” “Jailbreak Pact”), “Porvenir” is directed by Chilean doc filmmaker Cristián Leighton (“Kawase San,” “Nowheremen”). Storyboard will unveil “Porvenir” at the Cannes Film Market, courting international co-producers, said Sandoval.

In huge civil protests mainly between October 2019 and March 2020 — for example, on Oct. 25, 2019, over 1.2 million people marched in Santiago — 460 protestors received eye injuries resulting from rubber bullets and pellets used against demonstrators by security forces. Most cases were treated by the Ocular Trauma Unit (UTO) of Hospital del Salvador in central Santiago. The victims are said to mark the biggest collective case of eye injuries in international medical history.

Leighton began shooting footage at the UTO in an observational style in October 2019, focusing on a clutch of often very young victims, some of whom will be blinded for life. He weaves an intimate portrait of their ocular trauma, post-trauma, treatment, the impact of injury on their lives and their hopes for Chile’s future.

The film’s aim, its producers said, is to create a “historical memory,” a “counter-history” to official versions.

The protests forced Chile’s government to move to change a constitution inherited from Augusto Pinochet’s dictatorship.

“El Porvenir de la Mirada” also tries to portray the experience lived by young people who decided to lead a citizens’ uprising which is unprecedented in the recent history of Chile, Leighton said.

“Belonging to a generation which didn’t agree with many aspects of the transition to democracy in the ‘90s, frontally rejecting the constitution inherited from Pinochet,” he added, “I think it’s necessary to listen, discuss and understand with sincerity why these young people had the strength to change an económico, social and cultural system which my generation finally accepted.”