Posts Tagged ‘Chile’

Too Late to Die Young (2018) ****

Dir/Writer: Demian Hernandez, Antar Machado, Magdalena Totoro, Antonia Zegers, Martias Oviedo | Chile | Drama | 110′

Chilean auteur Dominga Sotomayor follows her debut Thursday ’til Sunday with a freewheeling, semi-autobiographical cinema vérité story that soft-peddles through the winds of change expressed during a family New Year holiday on the cusp of Chile’s transition to democracy in 1990.

Themes of love, loss, belonging and owning are teased out through a lithe and loose-limbed interlude that takes place in the hills above Santiago where the outbreak of forest fires on the tinder dry landscape signal the death of the old and the ushering in of new forces for freedom that marked the nation’s break with Pinochet’s dictatorship.

But nothing could be less political than this woozy woodland reverie for teenagers Sofia and Lucas (16) and little Clara who now face fears of a more organic kind when their dog Frida suddenly disappears and their parents decide to part in the wake of the environmental tragedy.

Pictured in Inti Briones’ bleached out images the desiccated Summer landscape seem ready for some kind of regeneration and this gently embodied in Sotomayor clever writing and a select choice of musical hits that hark back to the era. Demian Hernandes makes her thoughtful debut as the musically-gifted and lovelorn Sofia leading a cast of mostly non-professional actors of all ages selected by the filmmaker and her casting director mother. Antonia Zegers (Elena) is the only well-known actress outside Chile.

If you’re looking for punchy plot lines, this female centric drama can at times feel a tad too enigmatic, and most of the characters, particulars the males, are suggested rather than fully developed. This sketchiness can be part of the film’s charm, providing you’re in the mood to surrender to the dreamy, bemusing complexities of young love and complicated relationships. The disappearance of the dog Frida/Cindy gives the film some direction and drama and also some of its wry humour as the outcome of this strand actually ends up being rather amusing. Delicately drawn, thoughtful and always perceptive, Sotomayor

Dominga Sotomayor made history by winning the Leopard for Best Director at the 71st Locarno Festival, making her the first female director to receive this award. She has that rare gift of lightness of touch, letting her drama take shape naturally marking her out as a real talent to watch out for. MT


Insulaire (2018) *** Bergamo Film Meeting 2019

Dir: Stephane Goël | Wri: Antoine Jacoud/Stephane Goël With: Mathieu Amalric | Doc, 92′

In 1877 a Swiss aristocrat, Alfred von Rodt, became the governor of the remote Chilean island in the South Pacific Ocean, giving birth to the legendary term “Robinson Crusoe”. Exiled from his country and family, Rodt turned his hand to surviving without them in a utopia of his own making. While Mathieu Amalric narrates Rodt’s imagined musings (in French), the story of his current descendants unfolds before our eyes, showing little has changed on the island in the intervening 142 years, as the islanders fight for survival outside the governance of Chile, seeking political autonomy and the preservation of their indigenous identity.  

On this renamed ‘Isla Robinson Crusoe’ in the remote Juan Fernandez Archipelago  (off Chile) there are no immigrants because everyone was born there along with the firecrown hummingbirds and fur seals and (originally) imported cattle and horses. Valparaiso is the nearest mainland city and from there most of the imports arrive. The islanders are still reliant on the mainland so nothing has changed since Rodt’s day, but now the population has grown to around 900, and they appear to be increasingly insular, and proud of it too.

Stephane Goël evokes this windswept island paradise with its undulating terrain formed by ancient lava flows. Extraordinary views dominate the white sandy beaches where baby seals frolic in the waves. Rodt dreamed of creating a mini Switzerland and yet nothing could be further away as these contented South American people brush along happily together bound by their collective Catholic faith. Goël does not attempt to get know any of them so this remains largely a speculative documentary where we are projecting putative notions and ideas onto existing archive and fact. Nor does he question the natives apparently placid existence, leaving us to assume that the vast open spaces and rural existence ensures tranquility. But as the film plays out there are clearly similarities with the genial South Americans here and the well-behaved Swiss of his native Berne. And the person who unites them still lives on through this community: the indefatigable pioneer von Rodt. But was he an optimist or a simply a megalomaniac propelled by the rage of being driven out.

At this moment in time where we explore ever more closely the notions of nationalism and patriotism, this island thousands of miles away is also going through the same process. MT




Las Ninas Quispe (The Quispe Girls) | Berlinale 2015 | NATIVe Selection


Haunted by sadness, mistrust and a hostile political climate, three sisters herd goats in the high planes of seventies Chile as they contemplate their bleak future. Sebastian Sepulveda’s debut is a plaintive affair shot through with human tenderness, subtles turns by the Quispe sisters (Francisca Gavilan, Catalina Saavedra and Digna Quispe) and a captivating sepia-tinted aesthetic. MT


Gloria (2012)

Dir: Sebastian Lelio | Cast: Paulina Garcia, Sergio Hernandez | 110min Drama Chile/Spain

Paulina Garcia won Best Actress at Berlin for her sunny portrayal of a mid-lifer who hasn’t reached old age but is contemplating the future and starting to see the long shadows of her mortality slowly edging into sight.

Sebastian Lelio’s third feature opens with a palm-fringed panorama of Santiago de Chile, the sophisticated capital of his thrusting South American homeland. Gloria, in her fifties, is a positive and happy divorcee looking love.

Lelio’s crisp, clear direction and a wealth of glossy locations and interiors, make this a mature and insightful drama for a director in his late thirties. Gloria offers gives plenty of positive food for thought without a touch negativity or self-doubt: a refreshing look at second-time love for the older generation. Gloria examines her hopes and reassesses her life through the encounters she experiences. Sebastian Lelio shows us the positives of his Latin culture without being judgemental or maudlin: strong family links, dancing, music and laughter, Chilean wine and socialising are the keynotes. There’s a touchingly romantic vignette of a man and woman singing a Brazilian love song round the piano.  The dating scene throws up rich pickings  most of which are rotten and a graduall realisation that life is good and there is future for Gloria and for Chile set against a background of political uncertainty and forty years of strife and unrest. MT


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