Women Producers Take Charge in Chilean Cinema

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Women are dominating the Chilean film industry more than ever, replicating what is happening across most of Latin America. In Bolivia, 85% of the producers are said to be women and in Mexico, nearly half of the audiovisual workforce is female. Of the 10 key Chilean titles participating at the Marché du Film Online Producers Network Spotlight this year, eight are produced by women.

Films made by this ever-growing generation of female producers are “ever more robust, of a larger caliber, with big casts, and made in international co-production, not small films made with just Chilean funding,” says Constanza Arena, executive director of Chilean film-TV promotion board CinemaChile. She cites Florencia Larrea’s “My Tender Matador,” Macarena Lopez’s “La Felicidad,” Gabriela Sandoval’s “Jailbreak Pact” and Karina Jury’s “Vera de Verdad,” co-produced with Italy and selected for the Marché du Film’s Frontières genre showcase.

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“The whole industry is evolving in how we make films and tell stories,” says Roció Jadue, head of Latin American film at Fabula. “Audiences are looking for new stories, not necessarily complicated, nor feminist ones, but simply ones which relate with a more or less a female audience that wants to see stories that represent them.”

“With the advent of new distribution platforms, led by Netflix, we’re seeing big changes in the industry as demand for premium content rises,” notes Larrea, who has observed higher production values, more competitive titles and a boom in talent.

“Women have taken advantage of this evolution, bringing a new vision, subjects with other protagonists; stories which have to be told by women, not only directors and writers but also DPs, in art and sound design and editing,” Jadue says.

Female DPs of recent films include Maura Moraes (“Entierro”), Francisca Saez (“Héctor”), Valeria Fuentes (“Perro Bomba”), Emilia Martín (“Fiebre Austral”), Laura Salinas (“Haciendo Sombra”) and Michelle Bossy (“Fiebre”).

To date, there are four noteworthy editors: Soledad Salfate (“A Fantastic Woman,” “Gloria Bell”), Andrea Chignoli (“No,” “Araña”), Melisa Miranda (“El Pacto de Adriana,” “El Viaje de Monalisa”) and Camila Mercadal (“Flow”).

A handful of femme filmmakers are venturing into genre films, led by Paulette Lecaros and Yeniffer Fasciani of Niebla Prods. with their supernatural thriller “Ancestra” and Florencia Dupont and Pilar Díaz of Santiago Independiente, who took home the inaugural Morbido Fest prize at last year’s Santiago Intl. Film Festival (Sanfic) for “Aracne,” a noirish thriller set in Santiago.

In recognition of this surge, 2019’s Sanfic hosted its first Women’s Encounter in which more than 30 Latin American women got together to relate their individual experiences and the challenges they faced in the region’s audiovisual industry. As they sat in a circle, they exchanged anecdotes and advice on how to navigate a predominantly male workplace, long work hours and the right work-home balance.

The conversation continues to this day. “One good thing to come out of this COVID-19 pandemic and the lockdown is that it has made the men now working from home realize how challenging it is to balance one’s work and home life,” says Sandoval, Storyboard Media producer and Sanfic Industry head. Aside from producing historical drama “El Cardenal” and executive producing Sofia Paloma Gomez and Camilo Becerra’s drama “Quizas es Cierto lo que Dicen de Nosotros,” she is producing the debut feature documentaries of upcoming directors Patricia Correa (“Tercer Acto”) and Francina Carbonell (“El Cielo Está Rojo”). She recalls that more than half of the projects and works in progress at last year’s Sanfic Industry featured female directors or producers.

“Women are more collaborative, we help each other; we form friendships, not rivalries,” says Karina Jury, who’s also producing children’s series and documentaries. She concurs, moreover, that women are more suited to producing as they tend to be more detail-oriented and adept at multitasking.

Jury noticed a change in Chile after returning from six years in Italy. “Our male directors are less misogynistic, more respectful, even more admiring of women,” she notes, partly crediting the #MeToo movement for the shift in attitudes.

“I make sure my sets are democratic: Everyone eats at the same time, there’s no shouting and no one is considered more important than the other,” says Larrea, who is also co-producing Argentine Martin Rejtman’s comedy “La Practica” with Argentina’s La Union de los Rios, Pandora (Germany) and Rosa Filmes (Portugal).

In 2017, a group of five Chilean women in the biz formed femme networking group Nosotros Audiovisuales, which swiftly grew to a membership of some 3,000 today. “Our goals are threefold: to raise our members’ visibility, promote their work and encourage networking,” says co-manager Elisa Torres.

While the number of female producers and — to a lesser extent — directors have blossomed, there are still only a few in the fields of editing or cinematography.
“It’s been harder to penetrate the boys’ clubs in these fields,” Torres says. “That may be one other reason most women have turned to producing.”


A Break down of some of the Chilean movie highlights being moved at Cannes’ 2020 virtual market:

The Cardinal
Benjamin Avila
Produced by Gabriela Sandoval of Storyboard Media, Magma Cine (Argentina), Gullane (Brazil). Sole Chilean participant at 2019 San Sebastian Co-Production Forum. Set in 1973 Chile where Cardinal Silva Henriquez faces the harsh realities of protecting victims of the military dictatorship. In development.

Dear Vera
Jose Luis Torres Leiva
From Catalina Vergara of Globo Rojo Films comes the story of an alcoholic actress whose life changes when she’s called to work on an unfinished 1973 film, starring Vera Ratto. In development.

Elisa Eliash
Live action/animation kid adventure produced by Clara Taricco’s La Forma Cine and Peru’s Tiempo Libre, Films Bastardia. An 11-year-old boy’s high fever transports him to a different world through a painting. In post.

Pepa San Martin
Produced by Macarena Lopez of Manufactura de Peliculas, a dramedy following Ana, 65, who despite failing health, is bent on fulfilling her one dream: to swim the frigid Beagle channel between Chile and Argentina. In development.

My Tender Matador
Rodrigo Sepulveda
Produced by Forastero’s Florencia Larrea, a drama turning on an aging transvestite, played by Alfredo Castro (“Tony Manero”), who gets entangled in a clandestine operation after falling for a young leftist guerrilla. Seeking international distribution.

Patient(ly) Enduring Suffering
Constanza Fernandez
Roberto Doveris’ Niña Niño Films presents a drama based on the true story of a seriously ill prominent doctor at the mercy of Chile’s inhumane health system. Seeking post-production finance.

Sergio Larrain, the Eternal Moment
Sebastian Moreno
A Peliculas del Pez documentary produced by Claudia Barril about Sergio Larrain, the only Chilean photographer to join Magnum Photos, who then decides to live as a hermit in northern Chile. Seeking sales agent.

The Sorcerers

Christopher Murray
A drama set in the mystical Chiloé Island where an 11-year-old indigenous girl turns to witchcraft to seek justice for her murdered father, from Oscar-winning Fabula. Co-producers: Pimienta (Mexico), the Match Factory (Germany).

Vera de Verdad
Beniamino Catena
Playing the Marché du Film’s Frontières selection, this sci-fi drama, produced by Karina Jury of Atomica Films and Italy’s Macaia Film, is about 10-year-old Vera who vanishes in Liguria, Italy, only to reappear two years later, aged 25. Sales gent is Coccinelle Film.

The Viper Hunt
Esteban Larrain
Altiro Films thriller co-produced with Selenium Films (France) and Toned Media (Spain). A journalist in a rut finds new impetus when clues lead her to the whereabouts of a notorious sect leader and revelations about her late father. Latido Films reps sales.

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