Chilean cinema shines in Locarno Film Festival

‘Matar un Hombre’ wins prize after prestigious Swiss festival turns spotlight on emerging talent in Latin America’s latest film hotspot.


The film “Matar un Hombre (To Kill a Man)” claimed first prize in the Carte Blanche section of the Locarno Film Festival 2013, which screens films in post-production and this year opted for Chile as its focus nation.

The third feature by director Alejandro Fernández Almendras won a prize of 10,000 Swiss Francs (CLP$5.46 million) after emerging triumphant from the category which included seven Chilean films. The project is unseen at any other festival and not yet sold to international sales agents.

The movie, shot in the fishing port of Tomé in the central-southern Bio Bío Region, tells the story of Jorge, a park ranger, who struggles to support his family. One day while returning from work, he is robbed by Kalule, a well-known local thug.

After Jorge’s son tries to get the money back, Kalule threatens to shoot him, and is sentenced to two years jail. But Kalule is released after just six months — and promises revenge. When local police ignore Jorge’s pleas for support, the park ranger is forced to take justice into his own hands.

The prize money pocketed by Fernández will certainly help launch his latest film onto the international market, but claiming first place in the Carte Blanche section promises much more than just financial support. Locarno, which screened its 66th edition in 2013, is one of the world’s longest running film festivals, and has earned a reputation for launching careers in the industry.

This year the Carte Blanche jurors included Frédéric Boyer, artistic director of TriBeCa Film Festival, Gerwin Tamsma, programmer for the Rotterdam International Film Festival and Uruguayan producer Agustina Chiarino. The exposure “Matar un Hombre” gained from their approval — and those of countless other industry experts — will no doubt be priceless.

Adding to a triumphant outing was the fact that “Matar a un hombre” also won the support for post production from the France’s National Center of Cinematography and the Moving Image (CNC) and was selected to screen at the Cinema in Construction section at the San Sebastián International Film Festival.

The other Chilean films in the Carte Blanche section were: “Raúl,” by Matías Venables Brito; “R. Lorena,” by Isidora Marras; “Surire,” by Bettina Perut e Iván Osnovikoff; “El Hijo Pródigo (The Prodigal Son),” by Carlos Araya Diaz; “El Vals de los Inútiles (The Waltz),” by Edison Cajas and “Volantín Cortao,” by Aníbal Jofré and Diego Ayala.