Sebastián Lelio

Valdivia has always felt like a celebration of what has happened to us – of the attempts, the hits, the adventures without a clear destination, of those powerful films, and also the failures: of everything we have been, all of us.

I was able to premiere my first short films at the Valdivia Festival. Someone cared about them; they paid your travel fare, they gave you lodging! I could not believe it. That was in ’96 and ’97. I was (and still am) a film student, and Valdivia was the meeting place with those that had more experience, those that had blazed the trail. It was also the place where I met so many people that would end up my road companions, accomplices, co-creators.
It thrills me to remember that train ride to the 2005 edition: a key year. Onboard that southbound train traveled a generation of filmmakers – they just were not aware of it yet. I was carrying the cans of La Sagrada Familia in bags I would not separate from. It is such a beautiful intoxication, physical and spiritual, to recognize that same hunger for cinema that consumes you, in the faces of friends.

There were so many people with movies inside them, who wanted to film without calculations, because there was nothing to calculate. There was urgency, a thirst for revenge and for artistic justice. Feverish conversations. There was the exciting and candid sensation of being a part of something that everyone had on the tip of their tongues, but which we did not dare to name yet: a kind of wave, an electrical current, a fertile moment. This was hunger in a pure, almost innocent state.

That hunger is maybe the most valuable thing we have. We have to care for that hunger. It shapes us, educates us, drives us. The Valdivia Festival has, at the same time, helped to sate and increase that same thirst for beauty.
Thanks for inviting all of us to this celebration, of which we are at the same time judge and jury. Let the movies continue to answer each other, and let that very luxurious and sophisticated dialog – which is the conversation about cinema – continue. It is a way of inhabiting and feeling the world. And let Valdivia remain there, receiving us all, inviting us, as always, to discover territories and pleasures unknown. Long live the Valdivia Film Festival. Thanks Valdivia!