Chilean director Pablo Larraín has won worldwide recognition for his dark drama Post Mortem, including a nomination for the Golden Lion at the Venice Film Festival 2010, and now has a clutch of top awards to add to his collection.
At this year’s International Festival of New Latin American Cinema in Havana, Cuba, Post Mortem took five top awards – the most feature film awards of any movie at the festival – and walked away with the prestigious Coral Second Prize, in the equivalent of the ‘Best Film’ category.
In a great day for Chilean cinema, the film also won Best Screenplay, Best Actor for Alfredo Castro and Best Actress for Antonia Zegers, along with the special FIPRESCI Prize from the International Federation of Cinematographic Press.
Post Mortem picks up the thread of Larraín’s previous, internationally recognised film, Tony Manero. The film, also starring Alfredo Castro, features a serial killer living in the Pinochet era who is obsessed with John Travolta’s character in Saturday Night Fever.
In Post Mortem, Castro plays Mario, who works in a hospital morgue typing autopsy reports. In the midst of the 1973 coup, he fantasises about his neighbour, a cabaret dancer, Nancy, who mysteriously disappears on Sept. 11.
After a violent army raid on her family’s home, he hears about the arrest of her brother and father. Troubled and spurred on by the thought of losing his would-be lover, Mario begins his frantic search for Nancy. While the army seizes the morgue and corpses pile up, Mario carries out his job but can’t get his mind off Nancy, thinking that he might find her among the dead.
Born in 1976, only three years after the rise of Pinochet’s military regime, Larraín says he is on a quest to look into an issue that defines Chile’s recent history.
“Since I didn’t live in those days, I want to get closer,” he told the Associated Press. “I felt there was something very important there for my generation that is not completely understood. I still don’t get it. I still don’t understand what happened.”
Post Mortem was inspired by the real-life morgue worker Mario Cornejo, who was present during the dissection of Allende’s body. Larraín invited Cornejo to consult on the film, and he was a constant presence on-set while the movie was being made.