At 83 years old, Sergio Chamy became a spy. His objective? To go undercover in an senior citizens’ care home to investigate what was happening with of one of its residents. The story is told in the documentary film The Mole Agent, directed by Maite Alberdi and produced by Marcela Santibáñez – both Chileans. The film has been nominated for the 2021 Academy Award for Best Documentary Feature.
This recognition has resulted in a number of historic milestones, for instance it is the first Chilean documentary to be nominated in this category. Furthermore, Maite Alberdi is the first Chilean woman ever to be nominated for an Oscar. Finally, it is the only Latin American film to receive a nomination this year.
Chile’s presence at the Oscars has been increasing in recent years, beginning with Pablo Larraín’s film No, which was nominated for Best International Feature Film (2012), followed by A Fantastic Woman, which was awarded the Oscar in the same category (2017), and Bear Story, which won Best Animated Short Film in 2016.
The Mole Agent’s successful run first began in early 2020 when it opened to high praise at the Sundance Festival. Indiewire, the highly-regarded site for independent film, described it as “the most heartwarming spy movie ever made.” Following its premier at this US festival, the film was set to open in cinemas, but the pandemic forced a change in plans and The Mole Agent had to find new promotion and distribution strategies. This is how it came to be launched with a virtual pre-opening in Chile, followed by virtual viewings both locally and internationally, gaining the approval of the general public and critics alike.
The Chilean documentary was chosen for the official selection of the Karlovy Vary Festival in the Czech Republic and the IDFA in Amsterdam. At San Sebastián, the movie was included in the Pearls section and received the Audience Award for Best European Film – as a co-production between Chile, Spain, the United States, Germany and the Netherlands. It then went on to have great success at other Spanish festivals such as Abycine, Sevilla, Valladolid and Gijón.
Then, in January of this year, it received a surprise nomination for the Goya Award for Best Iberoamerican Film, which it ultimately did not win. However, during the same month The Mole Agent was recognized yet again when it was nominated for Best Documentary at the Independent Spirit Awards, which focus on independent cinema.
This ceremony will be held on April 24 in Los Angeles (USA), the day before the 93rd Academy Awards. On April 25, we will finally find out if Chile can take home another Oscar for The Mole Agent.
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