Cine Las Americas is honored to announce the participation of Chile as the invited country for the 12th annual Cine Las Americas International Film Festival. The festival features a retrospective of films from 1994 to 2004, and a great selection of new titles.

 

Chilean Cinema of the Post-Dictatorship Era: A Retrospective in Film (1994-2004)

Amnesia, Dir: Gonzalo Justiniano, 1994.
Historias de fútbol (Soccer Stories), Dir: Andrés Wood, 1997.
Coronación (Coronation), Dir: Silvio Caiozzi, 2000.
La fiebre de loco (Loco Fever), Dir: Andrés Wood, 2001.
Taxi para tres (A Cab For Three), Dir: Orlando Lübbert, 2001.
Sangre eterna (Eternal Blood), Dir: Jorge Olguín, 2002.
Sexo con amor (Sex With Love), Dir: Boris Quercia, 2003.
Promedio Rojo (Below Average), Dir: Nicolás Lopez, 2004.

 

Program Notes:

amnesia_pWithout question, Chilean cinema has solidified its position over the past decade as a noteworthy contender in national and international film circles, as evidenced by Boris Quercia’s Sexo con amor / Sex with Love (2003) breaking national box office records and this year’s World Cinema Jury Prize in Drama at the Sundance Film Festival going to Sebastián Silva’s La Nana (2009). Although Chile’s emergence into the realm of film dates back to the silent era’s classic El Húsar de la muerte (1925) and achieves considerable notoriety in the late 1960s with such films as Raul Ruiz’s Tres tristes tigres (1968), Aldo Francia’s Valparaíso mi amor (1969) and Miguel Littin’s El Chacal de Nahueltoro (1969), the Chilean film industry hemorrhaged almost to the point of extinction during the seventeen historias-de-futbol2year reign of General Augusto Pinochet. Suffering repression and censorship during the Pinochet years, not to mention the closing of all University film programs and the burning of state owned Chile Film’s production offices and archives, the majority of Chilean film production ironically took place in exile, with the exception of two noteworthy films—Silvio Caiozzi’s Julio comienza en Julio (1977) and Cristián Sánchez’s El zapato chino (1980).

In 1990, democratically elected president Patricio Aylwin took office, marking the beginning of the return to democracy. As evidenced by the production of two feature films of considerable critical La-fiebre-del-loco-mujeracclaim during Aylwin’s first year in office, Gonzalo Justiniano’s Caluga o menta (1990) and Ricardo Larraín’s La frontera (1991), the democratic transition allowed for increased political freedom as well as freedom in the arts, setting the stage for the revival of Chilean cinema. To further restore and promote film production in Chile, the transitional government began subsidizing audiovisual production in 1992 through the creation of the National Cultural and Art Council (Fondart)—which by 2006 had provided an impressive 5.2 million dollars in artistic subsidies for a country with a population of 16.5 million. In partnership with the elChacotero3Direction of Cultural Affairs of Chile’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs, and the Chilean Consulate in Houston, Cine Las Americas is pleased to present nine feature length films that date from the post-dictatorship years.

The first in the retrospective series is Gonzalo Justiniano’s Amnesia (1994), a film that narrates the encounter between political prisoners and their captor-torturer in post-Pinochet Chile. Interspersed with scenes of the victims at the hands of the military regime, the film presents the struggle that defines the transitional time period—a struggle felt by all Chileans—with how to manage the ghosts and memories of the past and hold onto Coronacion-CENAthe faith and promise presented by their democratic future. Historias de fútbol / Soccer Stories (1997) and La fiebre de loco / Loco Fever (2001) by director Andrés Wood, from whom previous Cine Las Americas’ viewers may recall Machuca (2004), show glimpses into the everyday lives of working-class Chileans from all regions of the country, from the arid desert of the North where children struggle to survive to the wet and lush island living in the South where fishermen grapple to understand the complexities of modern day life. Similar to Wood’s structuring of the episodes in Soccer Stories, box-office success El chacotero sentimental / The Sentimental Teaser (1999) by Cristián Galáz is a film comprised of three Taxi-para-tres-Chav7stories that demonstrate varying degrees of a common theme. Taken from stories broadcast in the late 1990s and aired on the radio-talk show program of the same name, Galáz’s film captures the experiences of loss due to the abuse of common social constructions. The second and most serious story of loss, involving memories of incest, is framed by the narration of an adulterous affair that a young student has with his married neighbor, and the struggle for privacy and intimacy that a young married couple fights to attain in an overpopulated housing complex.

Silvio Caiozzi’s film Coronación / Coronation (2000) initiates the 21st century with an inspired Sexo-con-Amoradaptation of José Donoso’s novel of the same name, offering a cynical view of the traditional patriarchal values upon which Chilean society is based and due to which the contemporary social structure begins to fall apart. Whereas Caiozzi’s film deals with the remaining vestiges of the old Chilean aristocracy, Taxi para tres / A Cab for Three (2001) by Orlando Lübbert presents the challenges of earning a living and maintaining a middle-class Chilean family, represented by taxi driver Ulises and his struggles to get ahead in life. Desperate to improve his situation, his decision to join-up with the delinquents that first hold him hostage as the driver of their get-away car only leads to further complications. Taking up with Sangre-Eterna-16the darker side of life is a common theme in the beginning of the 21st century, as evidenced by Jorge Olguín, who plunges the viewer into a psychological horror thriller about vampires aptly entitled Sangre eterna / Eternal Blood (2002).

In stark contrast with the blood and gore spilled in Sangre eterna, Sexo con amor / Sex with Love (2003) by director Boris Quercia, the most popular Chilean film to date, is a light-hearted comedy about a school teacher named Luisa who tackles the polarizing subject of sex education. Her actions provoke reflection and discussion amongst the schoolchildren’s parents, and Luisa herself experiences a transformation regarding her own sexual Promedio-Rojo001relationships. Lastly, the final film of the retrospective series by one of the festival’s youngest directors, Promedio rojo (2004) by Nicolás López, brings the Cine Las Americas festival full circle by presenting a film in dialog with youth and international popular culture. Its fictional comic-book nerd protagonist is named after central-Texas native Robert Rodriguez, and his troubles consist of nothing more earth shattering than surviving high school and winning the love of the new girl in school.

 

– Laura Senio Blair

Very special thanks to the following individuals for their contribution in making possible this program: Alejandra Achurra, Alejandra Cillero, Eduardo Machuca, Ricardo Ortiz Vidal, and María Paz Escayol.

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