This is the first time a Chilean documentary has been chosen for the prestigious competition. The decision was made by the members of the Chilean Film Academy (240 professionals in the field), which is already a great achievement for the feature film. But this is not the first time the production has been recognized recently.
Two months ago, The Mole Agent was also chosen to compete at the 2021 Goya Awards, and earlier this year it had a successful run at the Sundance Festival, which is where it began to conquer international audiences. This will be the second time that the director vies for the top Ibero-American prize, after her 2014 film Tea Time (La Once) was chosen to represent Chile in the 2016 competition. Alberdi is paving the way for Chilean filmmakers who are looking to make history through non-fiction.
The documentary follows what happens when a private investigator named Rómulo is hired by a client to investigate the retirement home where her mother lives. He decides to train Sergio, an 83 year-old widow who has never worked as a detective, to live in the home for a while as an undercover agent. Isabel Plant, an entertainment journalist who hosts Radio Pauta, says that Chile has excellent documentary filmmakers from various generations. “We always have about ten documentaries making the rounds at international festivals with super interesting stories each year,” she says. The journalist explains that this has been the case for some time thanks to directors like Patricio Guzmán and Ignacio Agüero. “We have excellent documentary filmmakers.
The genre has made important contributions for years. It has become more popular recently, partly because of initiatives like Miradoc, which were screening documentaries in cinemas up until the pandemic hit. There are a lot of documentaries from the music world as well. Chilean documentaries have always enjoyed success, but it has become really popular recently because of Maite Alberdi’s generation, and that is really nice,” she says. Chilean film at the international level While Maite Alberdi’s documentary opens up a new path for the genre, non-fiction Chilean film has been receiving good news for the past 15 months. Five local productions have won awards at international festivals. These include The Cordillera of Dreams (La cordillera de los sueños, directed by Patricio Guzmán) at the 2019 Cannes Festival, I Never Climbed the Provincia (Nunca subí el Provincia, Ignacio Agüero) at the Marseilles Documentary Festival in 2019, Songs of Repression (Cantos de represión, Estephan Wagner) at the Copenhagen Festival in 2020, The Other One (El otro, Francisco Bermejo) at the Visions du Réel Festival de Nyon 2020 and Night Shot (Visión nocturna, Carolina Moscoso), which recently won Grand Prize in the International Competition at the Marseilles International Film Festival. Chilean film is doing very well abroad, and its success is not limited to documentary offerings. Isabel Plant explains, “We have a presence at all of the festivals. Pablo Larraín and Sebastián Lelio’s generation opened up new spaces, with Chilean directors heading up Hollywood productions and films in other major industry spheres, and that is very attractive.
There is a great deal of interest in Chilean film at the global level,” she says. However, the journalist says that today’s challenge involves winning over local audiences. “Over the past few years, box office sales for Chilean films have been dramatic. Streaming is opening new doors. Movies like My Tender Matador (Tengo Miedo Torero) have had a great deal of success in terms of views, as have Chilean titles available via Ondamedia, undoubtedly more than in cinemas,” she concluded.
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