Documentary festival celebrates Chilean films

The key films and prize-winners from this year’s International Documentary Film Festival.


Last month, the 2013 Santiago International Documentary Film Festival (Fidocs) came to an end after six days of world-class cinema in the Chilean capital. Now in its seventeenth year, Fidocs has become a key event for exploring the breadth of forward-thinking Chilean documentary cinema currently available from across the country.

This year was no different and a range of distinct, probing and innovative Chilean productions went away with prizes. Here we take a look at some of the standout documentaries and hear from the festival organizers and directors.

El otro día – National prize best picture

Weaving together stories of both his family and personal life and those of the various strangers who he interviews after they knock on his door, director Ignacio Agüero’s thoughtful, reflective documentary received the top prize in the Chilean competition.

Presenting the award, organizers praised the acclaimed documentary-makers latest, highly personal production “for the intelligence and subtlety of its story and, at the same time, for the use of documentary tools to look for new ways to examine the city, memory and the role these play in forming our country.”

Las cruces de Quillagua – National competition judges prize

The first fully independent production by young director Jorge Marzuca, Las cruces de Quillagua,” was singled out by this years panel for the “sobriety and beauty” employed in its retelling of the story of a town and community in crisis in the country’s arid north.

¿Qué es esta historia y cuál es su final? – National competition judges honorable mention

Inviting us to share a table with the aforementioned award-winning director Ignacio Agüero and editor Sophia França, “Qué historia…” explores the formers filmmaking, family and story of Chile’s recent politics through the mundane details in his house.

Presenting the award, judges highlighted “the simplicity of a veteran documentarian speaking of his work and the profession in general.”

La última estación – National competition public prize

Jointly directed by Cristián Soto and Catalina Vergara, this challenging, yet poetic and aesthetically bold, documentary about the final days of the elderly in care homes won the praise of audiencias who voted it the public’s best Chilean picture.

Pena de muerte – National competition best musical competition

Director Tevo Díaz’s re-telling of a series of gruesome crimes decades earlier received an award for musical composition. Praising composer Micky Landau’s score, judges said “this interesting musical project solidly contributed to the narrative style of the documentary.”

Meanwhile, in the Latin American competition, “Mejunje,” A joint Chilean-Cuban-Spanish production won the public prize based on festival-goers feedback.

Fidocs: A Chilean film institution

Speaking to This is Chile, Ignacio Agüero —  who has established himself as one of the country’s key directors over a 30 year directing career — explained the importance of Fidocs in establishing the value of the documentary as a genre and subsequently securing funding for early productions.

“Today, nobody disputes the importance of the documentary in the development of a national cinema. The existence of great and important films has established [the documentary] as a prestigious form of cinema,” Agüero told This is Chile. “Fidocs is an event eagerly awaited by thousands of people every year who have discovered that the documentary is a worldwide phenomenon for the production of knowledge and art.”

Alongside Fidocs, the Chilean capital plays host to numerous other international film festivals, the next of which is the annual Santiago International Film Festival (Sanfic) which take place in venues throughout the city between August 23 – 31.

By Sam Edwards