Chilean documentary takes new risks at DocMontevideo

30 julio, 2021

Filmmakers with no fear of mixing documentary with fiction or animation in series conceived for more traditional TV formats, as well as streaming platforms; these are the features of the five Chilean series presented at DocMontevideo’s market.

By Andrés D’Avenia – LatAm
JULY 26th, 2021

“Powerful new voices betting for current issues and new ways of putting together stories are arising in Chile. Fearless of mixing documentary with fiction or animation, taking risks and working with great professionalism”, that is how Chiledoc’s director Paula Ossandón Cabrera, defined her country’s series participation at DocMontevideo 2021, when interviewed by LatAm cinema.

Besides, these are works pushed by «experienced and younger» production companies, focusing “the attention of industry agents and other producers.” And when LatAm cinema consulted about interest at DocMontevideo’s market, that was precisely one of the common denominators.

After receiving the national production fund from the National Television Council (CNTV) last year, Extraordinary Ancestors is being presented abroad for the first time. Looking to “pin down meetings with sales and TV series and creation documentary distributor agents”, it will be taking part of the Meetings, Kamila Véliz, executive producer (Totoral Films) explains. “Finding coproducers at a Latin American level to create networks and strategic alliances that can join at different stages” is one of their goals too.

Each episode of the series invites “a common person to discover an unknown ancestor with a thrilling life story” through archives, interviewing family members and experts through different sources. Among those ancestors are “forgotten heroes, extravagant women, pirates, slaves, marquises, sorcerers, and executioners.”

Finishing its development stage, it will begin pre-producing in September, with eight 45 minutes’ episodes for Chilean open television and Latin American platforms.

About human movements and collective identities too, the series Chilepolis focuses on “the human right to migrate”. “Migrating for love, fleeing from wars, migrating in search of a better future. Each episode will show three migrants living in Chile. Who are the migrants today in Chile? How much of a migrant are we all?” ask the producers in its synopsis.

Chilepolis brings up “a deeper reflection on the value of migrants and cultural syncretism, exploring dreams and their protagonists’ intimate life”. “Knocking down the idea that migrants are all the same, that they come from similar contexts and that their reasons to change countries are the same”, the director Simón Vargas states. The filmmaker adds that considering the series takes place in Chile, «it’s something that is happening all over the world”. “We believe migration as a subject can’t be forgotten, and it is urgent”, he adds.

Like Extraordinary ancestors, it will have eight episodes, but only 25 minutes in length, also thought for open television. Selected for the Pitching, the producer Magdalena Hurtado (Tres Tercios) is looking to “improve our sales strategies for fundraising, introduce the project to possible players, and meet Latin American producers for a potential second season at a Latin American level”.

“Powerful new voices betting for current issues and new ways of putting together stories are arising in Chile”.

Another series presented at the Pitching is Asphalt Farmers, presented for a public audience for the first time. Her director and producer, Paulina Ferreti’s (Tercermundo) idea is to “deepen the proposal by incorporating the workshop’s feedback. And engaging production and distribution allies for the series, broadening funding and coproduction possibilities for the project in other countries in the continent”, as the series is expected to be filmed in six different countries.

The series “portrays the most significant urban agricultural projects at six major cities in the continent, as natural and cultural space bridges. Their protagonists, who are part of those projects, will immerse us into their everyday struggles and the roads that took them to transform their lives and their communities’ lives through these experiences”, its synopsys explains. That is why as a series it has an international reach that “will disseminate inspiring stories, registering different socioeconomic and cultural contexts in the Latin American region, taking urban agriculture as a core”.

The series’ team is preparing its local open television distribution and pay-per-view TV at a continental level, with environmental, culture, and news interests and streaming and other platforms.

Also concerning community values, Earth Community has four episodes in different Latin American countries (Mexico, Peru, Chile, and Colombia), and will be present at the Meetings. In this case, it’s a finalized first season with four episodes, portraying life at four eco-villages and the stories of those who gave life to each project. As Ferreti, the director Juan Tamayo considers his series “raises a universal issue from its protagonists’ reflections and experiences, promoting ecologic awareness in viewers.”

This production also received funding from the CNTV in 2018 and has been part of the Chiledoc Conecta’s market, DocMontevideo 2018, and Río Content Market (Rio2C). Now, presented abroad, it is looking for “distribution and screens to be broadcasted in”, considering “it has been conceived for social and environmental content focused TV channels, besides streaming platforms.”

The last Chilean documentary series project at DocMontevideo is Physics Beauty: The Invisible Science, winner of the 2016 development CORFO fund, and selected at the FOX (NatGeo) Original Productions Contest pitch in 2017, at Camp4Science (Czech Republic), and MIC-Conce.

At the core of this project are physics laws, as «laws essential to understand the Universe”. Usually unseen as they are invisible “until we manage to understand them, and they become beautiful. That is precisely the series’ concept approach”, as told in the presentation of the project.

The series’ host/actor approaches issues like thermodynamics, DNA and genetic heritage, the Big Bang, black holes, Wi-Fi, or quantum physics using “everyday ideas, so family audiences can pleasantly understand these complex issues”. To accomplish that, it uses “live-action and integrated animation, with high production standards and great potential for educational purposes”, as well as humor, the producer Gastón Chedufau (Las Minas Smart Media) highlights. The scriptwriters Loreto Caro and Susana Quiróz (Jailbreak Pact) and the director Rosario Jimenez Gili are also part of the team.

The project is currently at advanced development stages. It has secured 20% of its budget with TVN channel, and “an international SVOD platform has shown interest in entering the coproducers pool as a financial gap”, anticipates Chedufau. He also added that “currently a spin-off of this series is being broadcasted in Chile and some platforms”.

For Ossandón, these five series show a generalized tendency in her country’s documentary sector: “They are focusing industry agents and other producers’ attention.” In some cases, their presence at markets is becoming usual “not only in Latin America but also in the rest of the world, which is undoubtedly an important indicator”.

And precisely, Chiledoc is simultaneously part of this year’s DocMontevideo and Bogotá Audiovisual Market (BAM). In the sectorial brand’s director’s words, “presence at both markets is essential as these are the most relevant industry events at a continental level, offering Chilean projects opportunities to find coproductions and commercialization.