International award tops off stellar year for Chilean cinema

Chilean production wins International Documentary Association award,
adding to top honors at the European Academy Awards and Abu Dhabi Film

When Patricio Guzmán’s latest documentary, “Nostalgia For the Light,” picked up the Best Feature Award at the International Documentary Association (IDA) awards in Los Angeles on Friday, December 2, it capped off a remarkable year for Chilean cinema, which has been undergoing something of a renaissance in the last five years.

In honoring Chile’s veteran documentary maker, the IDA described Guzmán’s latest work – set in the Atacama Desert in the country’s north – as a “masterpiece.”

The film weaves together multiple, and seemingly incompatible, themes: astronomers combing the heavens for the origins of life, archaeologists hunting for pre-Columbian mummies, and elderly women digging through the desert sands in search of the remains of their loved ones, “disappeared” during the military dictatorship. And yet, all their stories come together in a profound meditation on the passing of time.

“It’s a movie about the past, a movie that demonstrates that the past is the most important thing in the cosmos, and also on earth,” Guzmán said of his latest work in an interview with the IDA.

Nostalgia For the Light” is still screening in Santiago at Cine Arte Normandie.

Next year could see a continuation of the international accolades for Chilean cinema, when two of the country’s films will compete for the World Cinema Dramatic Competition at the Sundance Film Festival, one of the independent cinema world’s most important competitions, and a prize that was claimed by Chile’s Sebastián Silva in 2009, with his film “La Nana.”

One of the two entrants, “Violeta Went to Heaven,” is the latest production of Chilean cinema’s golden child, Andrés Wood. The film has been a huge successful at home and is also Chile’s official selection for the 2012 Oscar award for best foreign language film. The other is the debut production of young film-maker Marialy Rivas,“Young & Wild,” a film that tells the story of a 17-year-old girl from a strict evangelical family, who turns to blogging as an outlet for her new-found sexual desires.