An Intimate Look at Chilean Film
Kevin Noonan | Friday, April 20, 2012
The DeBartolo Performing Arts Center (DPAC), the Kellogg Institute for International Studies and the Institute for Educational Initiatives collaborated to bring the first-ever Chilean film festival to Notre Dame this week.
The event, officially titled “A Festival of Chilean Film,” begins Thursday at 6:30 p.m., with a discussion panel featuring three of the most prominent directors in Chilean cinema – Ignacio AgÃ¼ero, Gonzalo Justiniano and AndrÃ©s Wood.
In addition to being decorated Chilean filmmakers, the three all received Holy Cross education as boys, attending St. George’s College in Santiago, Chile.
“[The filmmakers] will be here starting on Thursday to talk about their work, to talk about the lasting legacy of Chilean film, specifically in the post-1970s era, and how they’ve been instrumental in rebuilding the industry under a lot of kind of severe limitations within the country in terms of the restrictions,” Ted Barron, senior associate director at DPAC, said.
Barron refers to the political coup of the 1970s, in which army general Augusto Pinochet violently overthrew the democratically-elected government and brutally put down any dissenters, placing industries such as film in a position of what AndrÃ©s Wood once called a lasting restriction of “self-censorship.”
According to Barron, though the Performing Arts Center has featured series of films from around the world before, this is the first time it has focused so specifically on Latin America.
Steve Reifenberg, executive director of the Kellogg Institute, explained why Chile was an important place to start, especially for Notre Dame.
“The Kellogg Center, since it was founded 30 years ago, has had a long and deep association with Latin America, and a special relationship with Chile. In the 1980s, when there was a military government in Chile, many leading academics and policy makers came to Notre Dame and came to Kellogg, and ever since, we’ve had a really close relationship with Chile,” Reifenberg said.
After the discussion panel, the first film of the festival will screen Thursday at 9:30 p.m. Justiniano will introduce his film “b-happy,” which follows a teenage girl who must make hard choices to escape her troubled family, and finds solace in the form of poetry.
Friday will feature two films by Wood, the most internationally-acclaimed director of the group. His newest film, “Violeta Went to Heaven” will show at 6:30 p.m. The movie is a biography of Chilean singer and cultural icon Violeta Parra, and received the honor of the 2012 Sundance Film Festival World Cinema Jury Prize.
Immediately following will be perhaps the internationally-famous film in the Chilean industry, Wood’s “Machuca.” The film was one of the first in Chilean history to illustrate the events of Pinochet’s coup, and follows young school boys in the midst of the chaos. The movie was featured at the 2004 Cannes Film Festival.
AgÃ¼ero, a documentary director, will introduce two of his films on Saturday evening. “100 Children Waiting for a Train” will screen at 6:30 p.m., followed by “Agustin’s Newspaper.”
The first tells the story of children who are introduced to cinema for the first time, and the education that ensues.
The second takes a questioning look at the role of Chile’s oldest newspaper, which was pro-coup in the 1970s, in the dissemination of information to the people.
All the films are in Spanish, but have English subtitles or voiceovers. Reifenberg said the language gap, or a lack of knowledge about the history of the country, should not scare students away.
“The films are pretty different, but they touch on specific things to Chile, but they’re really universal themes of love and loss and hope. These are really wonderful stories,” he said. “These are not films that are putting big barriers to being able to enter in. They’re just great films, and students should take advantage.”
Tickets are $3 for each film, and the panel discussion is free.