January 29, 2012 will go down as a historic day in the history of Chilean cinema with two Chilean pictures taking out top awards at the largest celebration of independent films in the world – the Sundance Film Festival.
The highest honor for non-U.S. films went to Violeta Se Fue A Los Cielos (“Violeta Has Gone to Heaven”), directed by Andrés Wood, which was awarded the World Cinema Jury Prize.
The film tells the tumultuous story of Chile’s best-known folk artist, Violeta Parra. Using an interview she gave on national TV as a focal point, the film launches into various chapters of Parra’s life, from her travels through the Chilean countryside in search of folk songs to her fiery romance with Swiss anthropologist and flautist Gilbert Favre.
“It speaks well of the film that it can be appreciated outside of Chile,” Wood told La Tercera. “The award means Violeta will be distributed in U.S. so now more people will be able to appreciate it.”
The film became the second Chilean production in just 3 years to take top honors at Sundance, after La Nana – a black comedy that critiques the prevalence of maids in Latin American culture – won the award in 2010.
And while Wood’s film was a national box office blockbuster, attracting the largest audience for any local film in 2011, Chile’s other Sundance 2012 success has yet to be released in the cinema.
Joven y Alocada (“Young and Wild”), which won the best international screenwriting award, is the story of a “petite and pretty” young teenager growing up in a strict evangelical family on the outskirts of Santiago.
The film is a racy, coming-of-age story, which deals with the conflict between a Catholic family tradition and a new generation of internet savvy and hedonistic young Chileans.
And while the film has generated a loyal following in its home country, it’s fair to say that the prestigious award came as something of a surprise to first-time director Marialy Rivas.
“I didn’t even know there was a screenplay award in this category,” the young director said upon accepting the award, after apologising for her poor English.
Rivas then drew one of the loudest cheers of the night with the parting words of “Thank you, have lots of sex!”
Young and Wild will be released in Chilean cinemas on March 29.