Director Matías Bize, whose latest film The Life of Fish recently took the best Hispano-American film prize at the prestigious Goya awards, described his victory as “a good moment for Chilean cinema.” Bize discussed his country’s blossoming film industry in a press event with Fundación Imagen de Chile alongside Alberto Chaigneau, the Executive Secretary of the Council for the Arts and the Audiovisual Industry, and Sergio Gándara, the Co-director of Cinema Chile, an initiative promoting the Chilean film and television industries.
For his own film, Bize emphasized the international import of winning a major prize. “This prize,” he said, “opens new doors for us to show our films in other countries, like Belgium, the Netherlands and Spain.” This would hardly be the first time the 31-year-old director’s films have received international attention. Saturday (2003), In Bed (2005) and The Good of Crying (2007) have all appeared in international festival circuits, making Bize one of the foremost proponents of Chilean cinema overseas.
The last decade or so has been marked by the meteoric rise of Chilean cinema. Though filmmakers like Patricio Guzmán has had an international reputation for decades, a new surge of energy has emerged from the fringes of South America, with Chilean features raking in 80 international prizes and another 30 nominations since 2005.
“More than the number of Chilean films opened, what draws attention is that the quality of the films and that we have a generation of such talented directors,” said Gándara. Films like Andrés Wood’s The Good Life, which took top honors at the Goyas in 2008, and Pablo Larraín’s Tony Manero, which appeared in Turin and Havana in 2008, and most famously Sebastián Silva’s The Maid, which won a best actress award for Catalina Saavedra at Sundance in 2009, have all introduced audiences around the world to a Chilean film idiom. Most recently, the short film The Shower by first-time film director María José San Martín received acclaim at the Berlinale in February, 2010.
As Chilean films garner a wider international audience, organizations like Cinema Chile and the Council for the Arts and Audiovisual Industry are working to bring the international film industry to Chile as a top filming location, emphasizing the country’s geographic and climatic diversity, as well as its political, social and economic security.