Chilean cowboys ride out onto the big screen

A contemporary Western – Sal – premieres in theaters this May, bringing a fresh new take to the classic genre.  

From the huaso musters in Chile’s central valley to the gaucho culture of its Patagonian pampas, Chilean culture holds a special place for its poncho-wearing cowboys.
But so far, despite a rich history of cinema, that culture has yet to make it onto the big screen in Chile.
Now, director Diego Rougier, aims to fill that space in the Chilean cinema canon with his first feature length film, a swashbuckling, tongue-in-cheek cowboy movie set to light up theaters in Chile this May.
The movie Sal – which means both “salt” and “leave” in Spanish – presents a highly stylized journey into the eccentric world of modern rural Chile, while at the same time paying homage to some of the great flicks of the genre.
“I saw many Westerns as a kid. I feel it is a very noble genre and is ideal for telling a story of adventure and overcoming adversity,” Rougier told The Santiago Times. “I felt it was time to make a Western, but not a classic. It had to be absolutely contemporary and encompass all of Chile’s characteristics and peculiarities.”
The film’s hero is Sergio, a Spanish director that is enthusiastically pitching his idea to shoot a shoot-em-up flick in Chile’s vast and cinematic Atacama desert.
When his script is knocked back repeatedly, Sergio heads to a small town in the Atacama to try and add first-hand experience to the narrative.
But what begins as a fact finding mission quickly descends into something entirely different as the Spaniard is sucked into a debaucherous world of sex and gunfights.
“I’m not sure about the relationship between Chileans and Westerns, but I feel this is a film with many elements; black humor, sarcasm, action, the choice of genre is an excuse to tell a story,”  Rougier said. “I do not think people will leave disappointed. Our overseas experience has been amazing. Now we are eager to show it in Chile.”