Raindance – Chile

I had the great pleasure of chairing a morning of sessions at the fantastic Raindance Film Festival celebrating Chile as this years’ guest country and the emergence of a new wave of Chilean cinema – capped by the Best Foreign Language Film Oscar for A Fantastic Woman. Some fascinating insights emerged over the course of the sessions.

2005 was identified as year zero in this process, and in fact a specific train journey to a film festival where the current cohort of writers, directors and producers bonded together. Fast forward a decade or so and this group acts as a collaborative and supportive group driving international success and awards (Oscars, Berlinale, Golden Globes, Emmys). To me it felt like an object lesson in the fact that sometimes a small environment can deliver the enabling access, availability and shared sense of opportunity (a certain freedom and motivation) which gets lost in the major economic capitals..

Constanza Arena from Cinema Chile also opened up a very interesting line of thought in response to an audience question. As time has passed since the end of the Pinochet dictatorship there has been a trend away from documentary themes (to some extent evaluating or bearing witness) to more character driven plots – although still in her words with a “focus on uncomfortable subjects”. She identified this trend across other countries, as a major “scar” in their history was re-interpreted over time.

Next an entertaining conversation with Merced Productura regarding their VR film Hotel Zentai (above) – revolving around a lycra clad fetish club. Their response to questions on ethics and presence in VR were essentially that there weren’t any rules yet, they weren’t afraid that something was “too weird”. The fact that they were on skype in Santiago and had clearly just got out of bed added to the surreal undertow…

And finally the fabulous Gonzalo Maza, writer of Gloria and A Fantastic Woman, took us through the development of A Fantastic Woman – including the revelation that Daniela Vega was a consultant on transgender issues long before she was actually cast as the lead actress. He walked the audience through a key scene, ending on a shot of an empty locker with the assertion that “it’s a metaphor, so I don’t have to explain it”.

Next week to Chile proper, as part of a LatAm trip taking in Sao Paulo, Santiago and Buenos Aires.

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