How Chilean cinema captured Locarno Film Festival’s center stage

The prestigious European festival’s Carte Blanche section focuses on an exciting new generation of Chilean directors, balancing highbrow cinema with broad appeal. 

In October this year, Locarno Film Festival representative Nadia Dresti traveled to Chile’s Valdivia International Film Festival for an announcement that electrified Chile’s burgeoning film industry.
Locarno’s Head of Industry Office and Delegate of the Artistic Direction declared that Chile would be the focus nation at the Carte Blanche section of the prestigious Swiss festival’s 2013 edition.
This is Chile rang Dresti to find out what drove her and fellow festival director’s decision, and what it will mean for the Andean nation.
This is Chile: What separates Locarno from other festivals around the world?
Nadia Dresti: “I would say above all, Locarno is a discovery festival. There is a very big difference between Locarno during the daytime and at night. We like to say that the day is the time of the ‘black carpet,’ while at night we roll out the red carpet. During the day the focus is d’auteur cinema and more experimental work, while at night we show the blockbusters, big European films and big South American film. Last year for example, we screened No.”
TiC: What is Carte Blanche?
N.D: “Ten years ago we opened a co-production market called Open Doors, which is different from other co-production groups in that every year we focus on a different geographic area. Last year, for example, we went to Africa to select 12 films, and invited the directors to come to Locarno and meet buyers and producers. What this means is that buyers know what they are getting, and if they are not interested in a particular area or style they don’t come, so everyone who is there is there because they are interested.
With this same philosophy we decided to launch the Carte Blanche section. The concept is the same but instead the films are all works in progress, they are still in pre-production.”
TiC: Why did you choose Chile?
N.D: “Why Chile? Because we think Chile has great potential. . . it is a very active industry right now and we want to approach directors and producers and give them the chance to come to Locarno where they can really open some new doors.”
TiC: Were there particular films that brought Chilean cinema to Locarno’s attention?
N.D:El Año del Tigre (The Year of the Tiger) and No.”
TiC: How is Chilean cinema perceived in Europe?
N.D: “High quality cinema but a cinema d’auteur that can also reach big audiences like No or Tony Manero.”
TiC: Is it a coincidence that every Carte Blanche section has focused on a South American country?
N.D: “We’ve chosen three countries from South America because they are representatives of a young dynamic industry that fights for cinema d’auteur, like Locarno. In each of the countries we went to the festival (Cartagena, Guadalajara and Valdivia) to meet the industry and announce our collaboration.”
TiC: What will this mean for Chilean cinema?
N.D: “We will work with the Valdivia Festival to find the films, and will select six at most.
In Locarno we don’t have a market, we offer an opportunity to network, a place where everybody in the industry can come together to meet and do business. At Locarno the Chilean directors can meet buyers, producers, and with other directors, and people at all levels in the industry.”
Carte Blanche will announce the selected films at the end of July, 2013. Stay tuned!