IDFA Industry interview: Chiledoc exec director Flor Rubina

25 noviembre, 2021

By Business Doc Europe
November 24, 2021

“We are not a sector. We are a collective force!” is the slogan under which Chiledoc operates. The Chilean documentary community has shown considerable resilience during really tough times. Chiledoc’s Flor Rubina explains how to Business Doc Europe.

These are busy times for Chiledoc, the organization that develops, produces, promotes and distributes Chilean documentary. There has been IDFA, the world’s largest documentary festival, to deal with. Chilean films have been screening in Amsterdam, among them, Nicolás Videla’s Travesti Odyssey while La Casa, directed by Bettina Perut and Iván Osnovikoff was at IDFA Forum, winning the prize for Best Pitch. (This has among its producers Maite Alberdi, the illustrious filmmaker who was Oscar-nominated for The Mole Agent).

As well as IDFA, there is another major industry event on the horizon. Chiledoc is organizing the 6th Conecta, its networking bazaar (29 Nov-7 Dec) which brings together filmmakers, funders, distributors, exhibitors, TV programmers and sales agents from the Americas, Europe and Asia. Covid has meant the event is happening online.

“Moving to the virtual edition, everything is…bigger,” Flor Rubina, executive director of Chiledoc, acknowledges that, yes, she has a lot to juggle. There are almost 90 projects from Latin American countries as well as guests from 30 countries. “That is huge for us.” European sales agents like Autlook, Rise and Shine and Lightdox are all expected to participate.

Chiledoc has a distribution program, MiraDoc, to help the circulation of Chilean docs in their own marketplace. Travesti Odyssey is among the six films that will be released through this initiative next year.

“The pandemic did us harm. We were doing really well in art house cinemas [pre-Covid]. We try to work in cities outside Santiago. We go to 17 different cities [in Chile] in the presence of the director,” Ruben says. ‘[But] we are just starting to be in theatres again…our strength is the theatrical [side] and the contact with audiences.”

Chiledoc shares revenues with the cinemas on a 50/50 or 60/40 basis and then, from its share, takes 10%. “The rest is for the producers.”

Yes, Rubina says, the Oscar nomination secured by Alberdi’s The Mole Agent gave the entire sector a big boost. “It also made it possible for us to spread the word about documentaries in Chile. It opened the eyes of the Chilean audience to documentary.”

She believes it is significant that films like The Mole Agent and The Cordillera of Dreams by Patricio Guzmán continues to be chosen as Chile’s representatives for awards like the Oscars and Goyas.

There has been a squeeze on government funding during Covid. Travel by the national cultural agencies has more or less stopped this year because of the pandemic and those Chilean filmmakers who have made it to international events have often had to make their own arrangements.

The sense of uncertainty has been heightened further by the national elections earlier this month which didn’t provide a definitive result. There will be a run-off next month and right-wing candidate José Antonio Kast has made strong gains. If he wins, it is very unlikely to be good news for the cultural sector. Nonetheless, Rubina is heartened by the new documentary talent emerging in Chile.

“We are not a sector. We are a collective force!” is the slogan under which Chiledocs operates. The Chilean documentary community has shown considerable resilience during really rough times.

As in many other parts of the world, local producers are growing exasperated at having too many Zoom interviews. They’re desperate to attend international markets and festivals in person. This is important not just for their morale but because so many rely on co-production partners – and it’s generally easier to collaborate when you can meet face to face.

Nonetheless, there are reasons for optimism. “According to what we know, everything will go back to normal in 2022,” Rubina says of the expected loosening of the current travel restrictions. Next year, she and her team should again be leading delegations to events like Sheffield, Hot Docs and IDFA.

Asked to identify directors and projects from Chile to excite international distributors and festival programmers, Rubina names a few.

Patricio Guzmán is working on a project about the new constitution. Maite Alberdi has at least two new films. One, La memoria infinita/The Timeless Memory is about Paulina Urrutia, the politician and actress, and her husband, a victim of Alzheimer’s.

Another new project Rubina flags up is Breaking the Brick by Carola Fuentes and Rafael Valdeavellano, about the political battles over the brutal neoliberal policies imposed on Chile for so many years.

There are also high hopes for El porvenir de la mirada, directed by Cristián Leighton, which was presented in the co-production forum in San Sebastián. Set in a hospital, this deals with the repression and violence faced by many young Chileans during the social and political upheavals of 2019. This is associate-produced by Sebastian Lelio, one of Chile’s best-known fiction directors.

“Chile is now living through stormy times,” Rubina reflects. She believes that Chileans are still coming to terms with the Pinochet era. “We as a country haven’t been able to close that cycle. What happened in 2019 has to do with that also…”

That said, the political turmoil provides very rich material for documentary makers. So does the ongoing environmental crisis in the country. Whatever else, Chilean documentary makers won’t be lacking for stories in the coming months and years.