Chilean film wins top prize at Portuguese awards

‘De Jueves a Domingo’ celebrates the personal over political with a tale of family dynamics.  

If 2011 was the greatest year in Chilean cinema, all indicators are saying that 2012 will be no letdown for the Andean nation. The latest in a string of accolades comes from Portugal, where the the Festival Indie Lisboa applauded first-time Chilean director Dominga Sotomayor for her debut feature, De Jueves a Domingo (“Thursday till Saturday”).
At the Portuguese festival earlier this month, the film – which tells the story a young couple’s breaking apart during a four-day family road-trip through northern Chile – was awarded the “City of Lisbon” grand prize, the event’s highest honor, worth US$13,000.
The prize will add to a growing tally of silverware for this first-time director and her new flick, coming after De Jueves a Domingo won one of three Hivos Tiger Awards at the Rotterdam International Film Festival in February and was selected for the Cannes Cinéfondation Résidence in 2010.
Set amid the stark scenery of Chile’s northern deserts, the story is seen through the eyes of the couple’s children, sheltered in the backseat from their parents’ conflict by a bubble of childhood fantasies.
“I wanted to explore a childhood perspective,” 26-year-old Sotomayor told The Santiago Times. “I wanted for the journey to be the result itself, to seek for something that goes beyond a couple’s separation, to connect with the feeling of being a child. In more than one way, I set out to document real emotions.”
A graduate of Universidad Católica‘s film school, Sotomayor is confident that Chile’s recent film renaissance will continue to flourish, now that film directing is once again a focus in Chilean universities.
The recognition of film directing as a university degree has also been a big step for the industry, Sotomayor said. “The reopening of the film programs at Universidad Católica and Universidad de Chile has also been meaningful. This is where several of the new generation of Chilean filmmakers have studied.”
And for the young director, her recent success promises to be the start of another important career – Sotomayor has recently won another award from the Sundance Festival in that will fund her next project in 2013.