El Año del Tigre (“The Year of the Tiger”), Sebastián Lelio’s most recent film was premiered this past Thursday, May 31st. The film follows the life of an escaped prisoner, Manuel, who sees his prison crumble during the 2010 earthquake and embarks on a journey home passing through the most hard-hit places in the south of Chile.
The movie was conceived from part fictional and part real events that took place at the time. Lelio, who has previously directed La Sagrada Familia and Navidad, was on the Chilean coast during the 2010 earthquake working on a different script with his co-writer, Gonzalo Maza. They were both intrigued by the fact that over 500 prisoners escaped from prison to later return of their own free will.
Two months after the catastrophe, Lelio and his team traveled throughout the south, looking for locations that could shape the background of a story – which, according to him, kept morphing as they discovered the extent of the consequences of the natural disaster.
“We were writing the script as we were traveling,” Lelio told local newspaper, The Clinic. “We would adapt the ideas to the real places mixing them with dramatic fictional elements we felt the movie needed.”
Throughout their journey south, the production team had to experience the desperation and abandonment of the inhabitants of Iloca, Duao and Concepción first hand.
“People were still feeling abandoned, they were still in shock and that makes our work relevant. They welcomed us gladly,” Lelio said.
The film delves into a reflection regarding freedom. It presents the conflict that arises once a prisoner discovers that the loneliness and cruelty found outside his jail is possibly more bitter than it is inside.
Before premiering in Chilean movie theaters, El año del tigre was screened at the festivals of Valdivia (Chile) and Locamo (Switzerland), where it received an award as a “contribution to humanity”.
Where to see El año del tigre in Chile
The movie is being screened at the following locations in Santiago: Hoyts La Reina, Hoyts Parque Arauco, Movieland Florida Center, Cine Huérfanos and Centro Arte Alameda.