Chilean director wins at Berlin Film Festival for debut short

The film by María José San Martin titled La Ducha (The Shower) was filmed in only two days and depicts a couple’s last morning together.

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The German Academic Exchange Service (DAAD) has given its special Short Film Prize at the prestigious Berlin International Film Festival, or Berlinale, to the Chilean film La Ducha (The Shower).

Directed by filmmaker María José San Martín, the ten-minute film, shot in two days over 18 takes, and composed of a single lingering shot, documents the painful separation of two women in love. The film depicts Elisa and Manuela (portrayed by Chilean actresses Luz Croxatto and Manuela Oyarzun) sharing their final shower as their relationship falls apart.

In giving the award, which is separate from the Berlinale’s main short film category though judged by the same jury, the Exchange Service committee noted the film’s “powerful yet painful portrayal of a separation, unfolding moment by moment between two women in love and for the courageous mis-en-scène, with a 10-minute-long single take that electrifies the audience.”

The 36-year-old director from Curicó, a city in central Chile roughly 200 km south of Santiago, makes her directorial debut with The Shower after years as a theater director. With this debut, the Exchange Service committee said in its presentation of the ward, “a director is born.”

“I’m extremely happy with this award from the German government,” San Martín said in an interview with Chilean daily El Mercurio. “This short tries to veer from hackneyed paths, that goes beyond folklore, that expresses the language of the soul,” she says.

Within the Berlinale’s main short film category, the three-person jury, consisting of judges from the United States, Israel and Tunisia, awarded the Golden Bear Award for best short film to the South Korean film Paranmanjang (Night Fishing), and the Silver Bear to another South Korean short, Pu-Seo-Jin Bam (Broken Night).

In the full length film category, the Golden Bear went to Iranian Director Asghar Farhadi for his film Jodaeiye Nader az Simin (Nader And Simin, A Separation), and the Silver Bear to the Hungarian director Béla Tarr for his film A torinói ló (The Turin Horse).

This post is also available in Spanish