The Miami International Film Festival (MIFF) is turning its spotlight on new film talent from Chile, as the debut of a new initiative called MIFF ABROAD. With sponsorship by American Airlines, MIFF ABROAD will spotlight one Latin American country each year, first by presenting a group of films in Miami, and then bringing a delegation of film industry advisors to the host country for training and networking sessions. The new generation of Chilean filmmakers make for an inspiring choice to debut the program. Chilean films are suddenly exploding on the international film scene as the next “hot thing” from Latin America.
MIFF is highlighting the most extensive showcase of films from the Chilean New Wave ever presented in North America, including 2 World Premieres and Chile’s official entry in the Best Foreign Language Film Oscar race. "Chile is a strong and logical choice", according to MIFF Director Nicole Guillemet. "There is a tremendous resurgence of filmmaking there, with many new directors bringing outstanding first and second films to fruition.”
Two of the films in the Chilean New Wave program are World Premieres. EL REY DE SAN GREGORIO, directed and co-written by Alfonso Gazitúa in his directorial debut, stars Pedro Vargas, who plays himself, in a haunting performance as a garbage picker living in the slums of San Gregorio.
PRETENDIENDO, directed by Claudio Dabed, features Barbara Mori, already a star in her native Uruguay, as a beautiful woman who swears off relationships and tries to remake herself in a new town.
Screening in the Ibero-American Dramatic Competition are IN BED (En La Cama), directed by Matias Bize, a deliciously naughty tale of two strangers who fall into bed before they fall in love, with superb performances by the wildly attractive Blanca Lewin and Gonzalo Valenzuela; and THE SACRED FAMILY (La Sagrada Familia), directed by Sebastián Campos, a partially improvised comedy of manners about the hell that breaks loose in a middle class family when the son’s seductive girlfriend descends on the family beach house.
Debut directors Francisca Schweitzer and Pablo Solis bring great sensitivity to the offbeat TIME OFF ((Paréntesis), the tale of an insomniac video store worker who takes a break from his girlfriend and learns some valuable life lessons from an eccentric teenage girl.
Chile’s Oscar entry for the Best Foreign Language Film is PLAY, the most recent film from Alicia Scherson. A sensitive architect who has been dumped by his girlfriend, falls for a beautiful Mapuche Indian girl.
The new Chilean cinema has received an enthusiastic reception in its home country and has won numerous prizes at international film festivals. In the US, films are available on specialized DVD labels, but have yet to crack the theatrical market. Based on the reception the films have received at the Festival, the films certainly deserve a wider distribution release. Perhaps a courageous distributor will have the necessary cojones to take on these films and deliver them to a growing audience.
Sandy Mandelberger, Industry Editor