María Aparicio returns to the festival with Las Cosas Indefinidas, after receiving top prize in the Feature Film Competition in the last year’s edition.
Valdivia will host the Latin American premiere of the unfinished feature El Realismo Socialista, filmed in 1973 by Raúl Ruiz and finished in 2023 by Valeria Sarmiento.
FICValdivia complements the announcements that began earlier this year with the Opening Film, Mudos Testigos, the posthumous picture by Colombian filmmaker Luis Ospina, made jointly and concluded by Jerónimo Atehortúa, revealing its Central and Closing films. The movies will show between October 9 and 15 in the capital of Los Ríos Region.
Central Film: Las Cosas Indefinidas
After winning the Feature Film Competition at the 29th FICValdivia with the beautiful film Sobre Las Nubes, María Aparicio returns to the festival with Las Cosas Indefinidas, which continues her investigation into minimal and anonymous characters whose identities are intimately linked to specific places, neighborhoods, and trades. Her new picture focuses on the environment of a filmmaker and editor (Eva Blanco) who, while working on a documentary about blind people, begins to feel an existential distance to her profession and to cinema in general. This emptiness is amplified by the death of the director with whom she worked, a malaise that extends into her minimal relationships, including the one she establishes with Juan (Ramiro Sonzini), her assistant.
As in her previous work, and by virtue of the dramatic properties that Aparicio rescues from her character’s craft, the movie has a marked orientation towards capturing objects, as a reference point for the staging built around the crossover between fiction and documentary. On that basis, the film is oriented towards a careful reflection on the craft of cinema, the construction of images, and on those apparently suspended lives. It opts for a fixed-camera framing, maintaining the style Aparicio has developed over her previous titles.
As the Closing Film, the festival will premiere El Realismo Socialista, a missing link in Raúl Ruiz’s Chilean filmography, which the director shot between late 1972 and early 1973, at a time when the center of his interest was in registering the Chilean political process, as decanted in the lives of characters belonging to different social classes, marked by the contradictions between the nature of their ambitions and their ideological affiliations.
The film sought to depict the internal debates of contingent politics through the intersection of the lives of a laborer and a middle-class leftist. The filmmaker expressed the plot in the following terms: “The picture is a choral story, where different worlds become intertwined. On the one hand, there are the laborers and the lumpen, led by the character Lucho, and on the other, there is a group of intellectuals in favor of the Popular Unity government, who come together in a more poetic front, the representatives of the petty bourgeoisie. At a certain point, these characters cross paths in an apparent friendship that ends in scenes of great action, with gunshots and intemperate songs, which produce a satirical reading of the period.”
When the coup d’état took place, the project was left unfinished, the material was taken out of Chile, and in the middle of this year, the production company POETASTROS, also responsible for the rescue of La Telenovela Errante (1990) and El Tango del Viudo y su Espejo Deformante (1967-2020) -both premiered in Chile at FICValdivia-, managed to conclude its restoration process in 4K, in Lisbon, at the Portuguese Cinematheque.
The film trailer premiered in the FICValdivia 29 Opening Ceremony, and this year, the festival will close with the screening of the complete motion picture, in its final 78-minute version. El Realismo Socialista not only illuminates a blind spot in Ruiz’s more political work during the Allende years, but it is also a valuable and thoughtful social record that enriches the commemoration of the 50th anniversary of the coup d’état.
The Gala section, an out-of-competition program at the Festival that showcases the most acclaimed works of the previous year, has also released a Chilean focus.
The first of these movies is Los Colonos, the award-winning debut feature by Felipe Gálvez, which was selected in the Un Certain Regard section at the last Cannes International Film Festival, where it collected the (FIPRESCI) Critics’ Award, a recognition that no other Chilean film had obtained until now.
The film portrays part of the Selk’nam genocide, in a story that begins in 1901, in Tierra del Fuego, that narrates the journey of an English lieutenant and an American mercenary, hired by a wealthy local landowner, to open roads and find a cattle route to the Atlantic. The task becomes a massacre of indigenous people, and, along the way, the mestizo that accompanies the two men becomes a forced witness to the hunt.
In Los Colonos, there is a principle of adjustment with certain codes of period cinema -and also of revisionist Westerns-, especially in the way it placates the tendency to photographic preciosity of southern landscapes, by overriding it with the protagonists’ somber and pathetic portrait. Gálvez had already shown this frontal and disenchanted vision, in his sour look at Chile prior to the 2019 uprising, in his short film Rapaz (2018), awarded at the Huesca Film Festival.
Two years after the short film Los Huesos, by Cristóbal León and Joaquín Cociña, opened FICValdivia’s 28th edition, the directors return as part of the Gala section, with the world premiere of their new animation project, Cuaderno de Nombres, a short that began pre-production with the working title Memorial and that also refers to the idea of recording the names and specific memories of children who disappeared or were murdered during the Pinochet dictatorship.
Indeed, the movie was built as a memorial in audiovisual format, worked in part at Diluvio’s studio, and in part within the framework of a workshop with young people, as the collective dimension is also a key aspect in the universal meaning of the short film. The images in Cuaderno de Nombres are organized around the story of a boy who is kidnapped by the military, while waiting in line to buy bread. For León and Cociña, this is not specifically a political film, but rather about the terror of not being able to trust those who should be looking after the population. “We imagined the short film as a river, as a great current of energy that rumbles, that stirs, and drags. And we also imagined it as a whisper, as a secret written on the final pages of a schoolboy’s notebook. Making the short connected us to our own adolescence, while at the same time confronting us with the terror of something happening to our children,” they said.
In 2018, the superhero Mirageman made a fleeting reappearance, when filmmaker Ernesto Díaz took charge of the spot for FICValdivia 25. The choice made sense as it was a commemorative edition that reviewed a quarter of a century of the Valdivian festival’s trajectory and the film in question (Mirageman), which premiered at the Chilean Cinema Showcase in 2007 and obtained the Audience Award, summarized part of the developments of local cinema, during that period.
After his last collaboration with actor Marko Zaror in Redentor (2014), Ernesto Díaz opted for a careful exercise in style and cinephilia with Santiago Violenta (2014), after which he took charge of the sequel to the comedy Fuerzas Especiales (2015). El Puño del Cóndor is another of the motion pictures selected to the Gala section, marking, without a doubt, the director’s return to both the martial arts genre that he has cultivated with inexhaustible enthusiasm, and also to his professional relationship with Zaror, now based in the United States.
The film plays as the first part of, at least, a diptych and, as in much of his work, it is structured around the long staging of a settling of scores, where The Warrior (Zaror) faces off against his twin brother, who has murdered his teacher and deprived him of access to an ancestral knowledge contained in a sacred tome. Díaz blends the conventions and trivialized recipes of the genre with his usual concern for the sense of visual spectacle that has always mobilized his cinema. In this endeavor, the most interesting thing is that, even in the profoundly postmodern vocation of his cinematographic project, a retro, even archaic dimension survives, which anchors it to the old premises of physical cinema, far removed from the careful rhetoric of the digital image. From this point of view, in Ernesto Díaz’s work, and eloquently in this picture, there is a taste and affection for the cinema that formed several generations of cinephiles before him.
The fourth Chilean title in the Gala program, and perhaps one of the most eagerly awaited in the local season, is the world debut of Voy y Vuelvo, the new movie by director Cristián Sánchez, who premiered his two previous works, Date Una Vuelta en el Aire and La Promesa del Retorno, in the 27th edition of FICValdivia. With the Kafkaesque phrase “he who does not seek, does not find, but he who does not seek is found”, Sánchez begins an episodic story scripted and filmed in only 27 hours, where there is virtually a single location that resembles a very stylized prison. From there, Alejandro, a young lumpen, interacts with different characters that burst into the space, generating situations that allude to his minimal survival, reselling or exchanging objects. Voy y Vuelvo is organized verbally with an anthropological approach, the director’s same interest in the Mapuche dialect, in Cautiverio Feliz and in Date una Vuelta en el Aire, and from there, it incorporates elements of popular culture and the notion of purgatory as a recurring figure.
Las Cosas Indefinidas, by María Aparicio. Argentina. 2023. 81 minutes. DCP.
El Realismo Socialista, by Raúl Ruiz and Valeria Sarmiento. Chile. 1973-2003. 78 minutes. DCP.
Los Colonos, by Felipe Gálvez. Chile, Argentina, United Kingdom, Taiwan, France, Denmark, Sweden, Germany. 2023. 100 minutes. DCP.
Cuaderno de Nombres, by Cristóbal León and Joaquín Cociña. Chile. 2023. 8 minutes. DCP.
El Puño del Cóndor, by Ernesto Díaz Espinoza. Chile. 2023. 80 minutes. DCP.
Voy y Vuelvo, by Cristián Sánchez. Chile. 2023. 74 minutes. DCP.
FICValdivia was founded and is organized by Universidad Austral de Chile; produced by the Valdivia Cultural Center for Film Promotion; convened by the Great City of Valdivia, the Los Ríos Regional Government, and Codeproval; financed by the Audiovisual Fund, the Collaborating Festivals Program of the Audiovisual Arts and Industry Council, and the Support Program for Collaborating Cultural Organizations of the Ministry of Cultures, Arts and Heritage.