Cannes FF: The ‘collective force’ of Chiledoc

7 julio, 2021

Por Business Doc Europe
JULY 6, 2021

“The landscape and the cultural identity of the country contribute to the way of making cinema, to the stories that are told,” Chiledoc director Paula Ossandón Cabrera explains of her country’s range of documentary output, designed for both local audiences and the international doc community alike.

“That mosaic makes the proposal attractive, since you can find production companies developing content aimed at more massive audiences [and] others concentrated in more authorial cinema with a more complex film language.”

At Cannes Docs 2021, the Chilean delegation will present four docs-in-progress, online 7 July between 16:15-17:30 CET and onsite 10 July from 11:45 to 12:30 CET.

Under Suspicion, directed by Daniel Díaz and produced by Esteban Sandoval, is about the embrace of family identity and the consequent discovery of a language abandoned by the director’s ancestors.

In Bastard, the Legacy of a Criminal, directed by Pepe Rovano and produced by Clara Taricco, the once estranged son of Chilean police chief accused of murder during the Pinochet dictatorship sets out on a 13 year quest to understand and repair a dark and broken past.

Meeting Point sees two filmmakers use fiction cinema to reconstruct what their fathers lived through in a torture centre 45 years ago. The film is directed by Roberto Baeza and produced by Paulina Costa.

Meanwhile, in Edita director Pamela Pollak asks whether her great aunt, a Trotskyist and Bauhaus student who lived in Europe decades before, was really as crazy as she is portrayed. The film is produced by Cristóbal Sotomayor, Carolina Ojalvo and Pamela Pollak.

“These four projects in editing stage…are exposing current, relevant, and global issues: human rights violations, discrimination against women, segregation towards persons of indigenous origin or the relationship between unrecognized children and their parents,” says Ossandón Cabrera. “What is remarkable is that these proposals, all debut films, are being built [from] innovative points of view, with consistent narratives, are well-constructed and are proposals of great artistic quality. The participation of Chile in Cannes Docs shows how our documentaries are being recognized today for their artistic quality and their global topics in the international orbit.”

The Chiledoc director points out how documentary production in her country “borders on” 15 feature film releases per year, and how, despite the pandemic, the number of films premiering in 2022 will still amount to at least ten. “However, many [documentaries] have had to pause or reschedule their filming due to COVID and these effects will probably be more noticeable in the releases that we will have in 2023”.

In 2022, the institutional funding available to Chilean doccers via broadcast (CNTV) and the country’s audiovisual fund amounts to $22.5 million. This includes Covid emergency support granted to the documentary audiovisual sector.

“The documentary industry is hard-working, is used to facing adversity, to working generally with few resources but with a lot of professionalism to offer high-level results, and that makes us reliable,” Ossandón Cabrera adds. “There is a very collaborative spirit in the sector…Persistence is another of the qualities that is giving results, since there is an enormous effort to support the [output] and the presence both of producers and directors, as well as of brands such as CinemaChile and Chiledoc, in the great festivals and markets of the world.”

Earlier this year, Maite Alberdi’s superbly funny and heartrending documentary The Mole Agent, which also flirted with elements of romance and gumshoe, was nominated for Best Feature Doc at the Academy Awards. What was the effect of Alberdi’s success?

“As the first Chilean documentary nominated for the Oscar, it became a milestone that also hit the Chilean audience,” Ossandón Cabrera responds. “The great contribution of the film was to awaken the mass interest of the public and break down the preconceptions and prejudices that often exist around documentary.”

She adds however that Chile has enjoyed a long tradition of documentary filmmaking with “great exponents,” such as Patricio Guzmán (The Battle of Chile trilogy, 1975-79, Salvador Allende, 2004) and Ignacio Agüero (Agustín’s Newspaper, 2008).

“Like them, so many other Chilean filmmakers have enjoyed international recognition, winning important awards and winning selections at outstanding festivals. Therefore, we could say that the path that the Chilean documentary has travelled began a long time ago, and all these productions have been paving what is perceived today as a solid image,” says Ossandón Cabrera.

“Maite Alberdi herself has made an interesting and very powerful path, which is consecrated with the nomination of The Mole Agent in the Oscars, but it must be remembered that she had already been very recognized and awarded with her documentaries Tea Time, I’m Not From Here and The Grown-Ups,” Ossandón Cabrera continues. “Today there is a new generation of creators who are developing productions with a diversity of points of view, with fresh and powerful proposals that address issues of global interest from the local reality. These same generations are daring to explore the edges, mix genres and incorporate the tools that reality offers.”

In its promotion materials, Chiledoc refers to its “collective force.” This is not a cheap slogan, Ossandón Cabrera underlines, rather two words that describe the essence of the industry in terms of its collaborative powers and spirit.

“This is a very community sector and, when I refer to the sector, I’m thinking of the entire production chain of documentaries, series and extended reality content. Directors and producers, as well as technical staff, distributors, exhibitors and organizations that support the sector, all know each other and work together by establishing alliances and sharing information. We are a small country with a united community, which understands that if a project or filmmaker is recognized abroad, the image of Chile is reinforced and this benefits the whole sector,” she stresses.

“In international markets, one of the characteristics of Chilean delegations is that they operate in a cohesive manner, promoting not only their own projects but also those of their colleagues, helping each other to find contacts and share networks. It is a sector that recognizes itself as diverse and appreciates the fact that the points of view and ways of doing [things] are different from each other. For all these reasons, as Chiledoc, the brand that promotes Chilean documentary in the world, we have defined as one of our slogans the idea [of being] more than a sector, we are a collective force that moves together, empowering each other, that there is not just one representative, because we are all representatives,” Ossandón Cabrera ends.