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Chile’s International Prize Bonanza Supercharged by Next Generation Women Directors as Trophy Count Soars (EXCLUSIVE)

Chile’s at it again. Since’s Andrés Wood’s breakout “Machuca” in 2004, Chilean filmmakers, led by Pablo Larraín, Sebastián Lelio and now Maite Alberdi, have punched consistently above the country’s weight, consistently winning plaudits at Sundance, Berlin and Cannes. Chile has also won three Oscars – for Claudio Miranda’s cinematography on 2012’s “Life of Pi,” 2015’s animated short “Bear Story” and Lelio’s 2017’s fiction feature “A Fantastic Woman” – more any other South American country apart from Argentina.  

First half 2023 has proved no exception in Chile’s statue trawl. Some of the awards on offer are among the biggest out: Alberdi’s “The Eternal Memory,” from Fabula, scooped Sundance’s World Cinema Grand Prize; Andrés Wood’s “News of a Kidnapping” walked off with best series at the Platino Awards, the Spanish-speaking world’s nearest kudos fest to the Oscars.

In all, according to a CinemaChile study released during Sanfic, one of South America’s most significant festival-industry events, Chilean films or filmmakers swept 103 prizes over the first six months of the year. 

That’s 128% up on same period 2022 when Chile’s was still gearing up from one of the longest COVID-19 confinement periods in the world, only lifted in February 2021.

“The report underscores that our country’s audiovisual industry enjoys large success and recognition in the world,” said CinemaChile exec director Ximena Baeza, saying that an “added value” was that so many awards were won in foremost film-TV powerhouses, such as the U.S. (32), Spain (14)  and France (11). 10 awards went to Asia, including India (5), Japan and China – where Matías Bize’s “The Punishment” took best picture and actress at the Beijing Film Festival in April.

32 awards went to international co-productions, most notably “News of a Kidnapping,” a four-time Platino winner, produced by Stuart Ford’s AGC Studios and Chile’s Invercine & Wood. 33 awards went to women, Baeza notes.

Also noteworthy, of Chile’s score or so of most prominent awards to date this year, half went to members of a new generation of filmmakers, who are first or second time feature directors or short filmmakers whose movies stand out for the boldness of their thematic ambition, genre and format blending. 

“Mutt” (“Quiltro”), a feature debut from trans director Vuk Lungolov-Klotz, a New York-based Chilean-Serbian, won Sundance U.S. Dramatic Special Jury Award for acting (Lio Mehiel) and a special mention from the Berlinale’s 14plus International Jury.

A co-production involving 11 producers in eight countries, Felipe Gálvez’s “The Settlers,” set in 1901 and delivering a revisionist Western on how Chile’s South was won, slaughtering Selk’nam natives in Tierra del Fuego, won the Fipresci award for best film in Cannes Un Certain Regard. It has just been announced as Chile’s Oscars entry.

Around half of these new gen filmmakers are women. Variety has already highlighted some emerging female talent from Chile, such as self described “granny millennial” Alexandra Hyland, for example, at Rotterdam this year with “Outsider Girls.”

As Sanfic Industria hits high gear, here are profiles of a dozen next-gen female Chilean directors to track, among early year winners or quit likely on the path to kudos glory:

Francisca Alegría, “The Cow Who Sang a Song Into the Future”

Alegría first captured international attention with her buzzy magic realist short “And the Whole Sky Fit into the Dead Cow’s Eye,” which clinched the best int’l short award at Sundance in 2017. Her first feature, “The Cow who Sang a Song into the Future,” premiered at Sundance 2022 and was a New York Times Critics Pick this year. She is set to direct a female led sci-fi feature which her new Latinx production company, Madre, co-producing with Bord Cadre Films and Sovereign Films, producers of the Oscar-nominated “Triangle of Sadness.” AMDLF

Paola Campos, “En el Camino a Casa”

The director returns to her hometown to teach film workshops to kids in the region, traversing her old paths toward belonging amidst the backdrop of the Mapuche conflict that has created a tear in the community’s fabric. Ready-to-pitch and produced by Ursus Films’ Vicente Barros (“Educadores”), the project plays Sanfic Industria’s Documentary Lab strand. Her first doc short, “La Extraña,” has been featured in national and international showcases and festivals, receiving awards for best screenplay and best film at BSFF-19, Fedochi 2019 and FiDocs. HJ

Francina Carbonell, “The Sky is Red”

Originally slated for 2018’s Sanfic Works in Progress, “The Sky is Red” from first time doc-feature director Carbonell so impressed Storyboard’s partners Gabriela Sandoval and Carlos Nuñez that they boarded the doc as producers and distributors in Chile. It drills down on a tragic prison fire from 2010 in San Miguel Prison which left 81 prisoners dead. Selected for IDFA in 2020, “The Sky is Red” won best film by a Latin American Director age 35 or under at 2021’s Mar del Plata Festival. JH

Patricia Correa, “Otra Piel”

Winner of Tribeca funding for her debut feature, “Otra Piel,” also set up at Storyboard, having been selected for IDFA for her first mid-feature, “The Woman and the Passenger.” A wry ode to singularity of human nature, “Otra Piel” turns on Miguel, a young taxidermist chasing his dream to open a museum of stuffed animals for blind children to pet. JH

Laura Donoso, “Sariri”

Dina, 16, falls pregnant in her staunchly patriarchal home mining town of La Lágrima, prompting her to attempt to flee across its surrounding desert, perhaps with sister Sariri, 11, whose just had her first menstruation, which locals deem malignant. Also co-written by Donoso, her graduate feature at Chile’s Cine UDD and a Ventana Sur winner which topped Films in Progress at  Toulouse Latin American Festival this April. JH

Tana Gilbert, “Malqueridas”

Heading to Venice International Critics’ Week, the only female Latin American director at the whole  festival, “Malqueridas,” shot entirely on clandestine cell phones by inmates at a woman’s prison, depicting how they face single motherhood despite incarceration. Gilbert’s feature debut, “Malqueridas” was part of the Chile Showcase at Cannes Docs 2022, where it picked up the Alphapanda Award, as well as winning the DOK Leipzig/DOK Industry Networking Award at Switzerland’s 2021 Visions du Réel. JH

Valeria Hofmann, “Alien0089”

A Sundance Short Film Special Jury Award winner for Directing International, one of the great Latin American shorts of this year, with Maria Di Girólamo, star of Pablo Larraín’s “Ema,” playing a gamer who uploads a video denouncing gender harassment as a stranger enters her flat, hacking her computer, fusing real and virtual worlds. Stylish, plunging into phantasmagoric vid game aesthetics, echoing Chilean social unrest, with “Alien 0089” produced by Mimbre’s Augusto Matte and Pascual Mena, and co-produced by REI Cine – prestige backing indeed – Hofmann is an international breakout waiting to happen. JH

Claudia Huaiquimilla, “Mis hermanos sueñan despiertos”

In 2016, the Mapuche director-screenwriter-producer’s first feature, “Mala Junta,” snagged 40 awards and was nominated for two Platino Awards. Her second feature, “Mis hermanos sueñan despiertos” (2021), premiered at the 74th Locarno Film Festival and won best film and screenplay at the 36th Guadalajara Film Festival (FICG), and was nominated for Mexico’s Oscar equivalent, the Ariel Awards. She also co-directed and co-wrote Netflix’s first original series in Chile, “42 días en la oscuridad.” She is now preparing the animated movie “Pangui” and a fiction film set in 1990s Chile, “Mapurbe.” AMDLF

Katherina Harder Sacre, “Desert Lights,” (“Estrellas del Desierto”)

Based out of Chile and Barcelona, Harder helmed the live action short “Memorias del viento” (“Guiding Sights”) which played at 35 film festivals winning best short at Chile’s Valdivia fest. Head hunted to direct Parox project “Silver Bridge,” director of Tribeca selected rural emigration short “Desert Lights,” winner of 26 prizes in 2022 and a best short triumph at January’s Miami Ibero-American Film Festival. A lesbian director now at Sanfic Industry with her feature debut, “Plastic Virgins,” a LGBTQ coming of age tale produced by Cynthia García Calvo.

Gabriela Pena, “Here, the Silence is Heard”

An alum of Barcelona’s Pompeu Fabra U., one base of Catalan directors mix of documentary and fiction, Pena, Spanish-Chilean, is working on her second feature “Here, the Silence is Head,” co-directed with which charts her return to the family home in Valparaiso, to live with her aged parents whose traumas of torture under Pinochet and exile still roil, inherited by her granddaughter. A recipient of the Open City Documentary Festival’s Assembly Lab development funding, and participant in Chicken and Egg Pictures’ EggCelerator Lab.

Kamila Veliz, “Tantas Nenas”

Heartfelt and raw, Veliz courts death in this profound rendering of her mother’s final days battling breast cancer. A poignant depiction of grief, care and familial bonds, the Sanfic Industria Documentary Lab title was additionally as an official selection at Lab Cine Lebu and snagged the Documentary in Production prize at Chile’s Antofa Lab. Veliz is currently producing the documentary series “Rescued” by María Teresa Paz and boasts prior production credits on the 2017 series “Without Borders,” 2018 title “Emancipated,” and the 2023 feature film “Bastard. The Legacy of Pinochet.”

Kattia G. Zúñiga, “Sister & Sister”

Panamanian-Costa Rican but based in Chile, director of “Sister & Sister,” a touching sibling coming out age tale, co-produced by DP Alejo Crisóstamo out of Chile’s Ceibita Films, which world premiered at SXSW before winning best Latin American picture at March’s Malaga Festival. Now developing the Panama-set dance film “Raging,” about a group of 55-year-old women friends who decide to take dance classes. Crisóstamo again produces.

Source : Variety