Chilean Cinema has come to America…kind of.
A respectable showing of films made in Chile is at the Quad-Cinema on 13th St, in a neighborhood where Bar Six is, where I met the guy who imports Los Amantes mezcal (like tequila, except smoky, more hallucinogenic and if poor quality, a worse hangover).
It is here, one block from the lefty New School, where selections from the whole gamut of Chilean filmography will be displayed from the 9th to the 14th. Most of the contemporary films are from around 2005, when it seemed like Chilean film had woken up from years of forcefully induced sleep and was prepared to open its eyes and speak again. We are still waiting for what else it has to say. Chileans at the New School for a loose conference with Bize, Lelio and Wood talked about their films in the film festival. Bize and other Chileans there, including Jeronimo Rodriguez, a Chilean film critic at NY 1, gave me the indication that there is, in fact, a new and upcoming crop of youngsters with much to say. It may be a simplistic indicator…but just go to YouTube and check out Chilean 15 year olders on film.
Films from past include the recently retouched version of the film by Miguel Littin, El Chacal de Nahueltoro, to Patricio Guzman, who I love to hate because its just so simple, with La Memoria Obstinada, and Alejandro Jodorowsky’s Fando y Lis, his first feature film. Also, Silvio Caiozzi, who I know nothing about.
Contemporary offerings include portrayals of the under-thirty, Post-Pinochet, film-making world by Matias Bize with En La Cama (originally shown in 2006 at the MOMA) and Sebastian Lelio (Campos) Sagrada Familia.
La Sagrada Familia was written up by the New York Times with lukewarm but positive results, and the Village Voice with destructive results. Both of these folks and their generational counterparts, which include Alicia Scherson of Play (who is doing a take on a Roberto Bolano story), were fawned over by the French film magazine Cahiers du Cinema back at the Valdivia Film Festival of 2005, when they all were screened publicly. Bize just one a couple awards at Valdivia for his new film Lo Bueno de Llorar.
Also, see Padre Nuestro, by Rodrigo Sepulveda, which I know nothing about, but was selected by the Chilean film industry to be the official selection to the Oscar foreign language film category.
Also the documentary by Maria Elena Wood, La Hija del General, which tracks Chile’s first female president from a year out of the election. It’s like a film write-around, like Guy Talese’s profile of Frank Sinatra! For the first four months of filming the director was denied all but public access to her subject.
The history of the family, the director has said, is like the history of Chile of the past forty years. A valuable portrait by the journalist sister of Andres Wood, the director of the film, Machuca.
“El beso, amor sublime,” Yael Rosenblut, 2007, 5:27 minutes
Video-art. I also wondered what it meant when I was trying to figure out who Yael Rosenblut was, and what she did, although she defined herself to me as a video-artist and curator (I still had difficulties grasping the concept). I gleaned that she was well-connected, resourceful, ambitious and hard-working but still didn’t know how one could dedicate oneself to art, why she was travelling to Buenos Aires, New York and Miami and where she was entering or designing expositions.
In her description from the Romance website, she has “a carrera incipiente pero fructífera, la artista visual Yael Rosenblut ha ido posicionando una estética muy propia en la escena nacional. Su trabajo es un híbrido entre las artes visuales y el cine, lo que le permite asumir una posición equidistante, un mirar desde afuera, aportando una gran cuota de ironía, especialmente en su análisis del mundo artístico.” I would assume she wrote this description, which is probably best.
A confluence of productions and people brought me to see the light, or see the videos.
Romance, a recent curated exhibition by Yael is at the Galeria Animal until the 21st of July. The Galeria Animal has been described as being a cuico art-gallery by some, which I think is a simplistic description for a well-positioned and actually less conservative gallery located on the high-brow, expensive Alonso de Cordova, Vitacura. But for its anecdotal worth, their website designers, Funky, play polo on private beachside fields, which is definitely NOT a cuico pasttime.
I would get confused with the idea of video-art because Yael sometimes filmed her projects, which implies usage of film, generally 16mm, and not video.
Thankfully, Wikipedia has a personally acceptable definition…, “Video art is named after the video tape, which was most commonly used in the form’s early years, but before that artists had already been working on film, and with changes in technology Hard Disk, CD-ROM, DVD, and solid state are superseding the video tape as the carrier. Despite obvious parallels and relationships, video art is not film.
One of the key differences between video art and theatrical cinema is that video art does not necessarily rely on many of the conventions that define theatrical cinema.”
“Lucia,” Cristobal León, Joaquin Cociña, Niles Atallah, 2007
So, I began to understand further when my friend Niles Atallah (who I have written about previously here) created the stop-motion “video-art” piece along with Cristobal León and Joaquin Cociña which was put in the Romance exhibit in Animal. Fear, writing on the wall, charcoal, light, dark, canaries, lobos, a little girl and broken flower (pots), as well as creepy narration.
While video art is surely new to me, it is debatedly becoming more recognized within Chile, especially by institutions, like the government. I can’t say if this is a a result of the greater government representation of culture in the form of a ministry of culture and the more “people-sensitive” or “soft” governance of the administration of President Michelle Bachelet.
One example of this is the 8th Biennial of Video and New Media 2007: Ciudades, Ciudadanías, Ciudadanos(as), run by Valentina Montero and taking place in October in Santiago. Subsisting for the last seven editions, since 1993, on the finicky Fondart mechanism, for the first time they have received institutional support, a significant grant, from the Consejo Nacional Audiovisual for festivals. “Finalmente nos aceptaron porque saben que no hay otra instancia para dar cabida a estas experiencias más experimentales,” she says. This funding effectively recognizes the distinct nature of this art form from the “theatrical cinema” showcased by the audiovisual industry in Film Festival’s in Valdivia and Viña, which have previously gobbled up funding. It will also lead to a bigger and better exhibition.
It will be held in the Matucana 464 location of the Museum of Contemporary Art in October, neighbors with the other cool museum on Matucana, Matucana 100. (The whole area reminds me a bit of the Smithsonian museums in downtown DC, big stone and marble buildings, ionic columns, green grassy expanses…lots of future.) Submissions are still being accepted until September 1st for the prize “Concurso Latinoamericano a la Creacion y Autoria en Video y Artes Digitales “Juan Downey.” Open to individuals originating from Latin America, residing in or out of the continent. Contact Valentina Montero at firstname.lastname@example.org for more information.
I quote from the pamphlet of the exhibition:
“What aspect will have these cities? Which are the challenges and architectonic and city-planning transformations that this growth implies? How is distributed the relation between the increasing homogenization of the “urban thing” in a global context (malls, cinemas, supermarkets, museums, airports), with the idiosincrathic character, historical and culturally located of each city in individual (urban memory, nomenclature, cultural symbolic capital)? Which is the character of the experience that the large city offers to its inhabitants?
The city is also a complex network of cultural and political interrelations. Between the more and more universal social monitoring mechanisms, control, displacement and internal fragmentation of the cities, What class of subjects produces these large cities? What type of identities promotes or represses? What class of citizens welcomes or rejects, integrates or secretes?”
Other notable efforts in Chilean video-art are Troyano. While the following has nothing to do with Video art, it is really cool and informative project. Cybersyn. See Fernando Flores, Stafford Beers and Salvador Allende and (George Orwell).
I don’t know if this art either, yet I do believe it took a lot of skill and thought to execute. “Pindar” by Mateo Zlatar aka Offending Command, a Chilean living in NYC, whose is a electronic music producer and dj on Radio Isla Negra.
Or watch the better quality, bigger screen version of Pindar on google video