It’s been a remarkable few years for Chilean cinema, with top honors at Sundance Film Festival and a range of other international awards putting a spotlight on the Andean nation’s burgeoning film industry.
Now, the interest and support that it has garnered in Chile and abroad looks set to translate to T.V., as big and little screens create a symbiotic relationship that will ensure more of the great productions that viewers are coming to expect.
“Chilean cinema has won an important place on television,” José Miranda, chief of packaging and formats at Televisión Nacional de Chile (TVN) told El Mercurio. “Proof of this is that the channels are ready to invest in movies a long time before they are screening in cinema, and without knowing if they will go well or not.”
In fact, the two biggest local films currently screening in Chile were both co-produced with the support of T.V. stations. For Pablo Larraín’s No – which won the Art Cinema Prize at Cannes Film Festival this year and sold 46,707 tickets in its first three days in Chilean cinemas – that station was TVN.
Set during the campaign to democratically end the dictatorship of Augusto Pinochet, in which Chileans were asked to vote “Si” or “No” on whether to continue under the general’s rule, the film uses much of the original footage of both campaigns.
“From the beginning of the project we were involved in various aspects,” said Miranda. “For example, we opened up the channel’s historic archives and the oldest part of our TVN’s studios were used to film some of the movies scenes.”
TVN will have rights to air “No” in 2013, but meanwhile it is preparing a cycle of Chilean cinema, among them Chilean great Raúl Ruiz’s, La Noche de Enfrente, Chile’s other Sundance winner, La Nana (“The Maid”), as well as La Vida de los Peces (“The Life of Fish”) and Bombal.
Meanwhile the other film currently making a splash in Chile is “Stefan vs. Kramer,” co-produced by Chilevisión, which after little more than two weeks has become the highest selling Chilean film of all time in local cinemas.
The film is a creation of comedian and impersonator Stefan Kramer, and parodies many local identities, including President Sebastián Piñera. Because of its highly local content it is unlikely to have the same kind of success abroad, but it is essential viewing for anyone who wants to understand Chilean culture.
And while Chilevisión won’t have the rights to air the movie it helped create until 2014, for María de los Ángeles Ortiz, deputy programming manager at the station, helping to promote Chilean cinema is about more than just attracting viewers.
“Chilean cinema not only receives high average ratings,” said Ortiz. “The most important thing is that it generates identification with our audience.”
The result of Chilean television supporting the film industry is a higher standard of local T.V., an increase illustrated by U.S. cable television network HBO’s decision to broadcast its first Chilean series, the crime drama Prófugos (“Fugitives”) by Pablo Larraín.
You can find out more on Prófugos by checking out this Santiago Times article.