Rediscover some of Chile’s forgotten films from the last century

A new website opens up archives of long lost art dating back to 1900, offering a new window into Chile’s cultural past.

The film encyclopedia website CineChile has unlocked a previously lost chapter in country’s cinematic  history— an archive of 188 scanned media files, between 1900 and 1950 that has led to the discovery of a score of movies never before recorded in any catalogue.

The many files unearthed by the site which aims to preserve and share the legacy of Chilean cinema, include diaries and journals that published articles about the national films. Compiled, they offer a window into the film scene across Chile at the turn of the century.

“The importance of this research is to rescue not only the information, but also to reposition a series of forgotten films, which were visually lost. But we believe that the collection of files in some way reconstructs these films and gives an account of the interests that the filmmakers then sought to register”, Marcelo Morales, director of CineChile, told press.

The extensive research into material from 1900-1920 uncovered 50 mini documentaries previously unknown to historians. Each of these pieces helps to create a better picture of Chile’s cultural heritage and the evolution of film in the Andean country.

“We have made a historic contribution that better contextualizes the first years of our cinematography,” emphasizes Antonella Estévez, editor of cinema Chile. “This makes us proud of our work and motivates us to continue with the coming decades.”

Among the newly rediscovered projects are Paseo de huasos a caballo (1902), General Firemen’s exercise in la Alameda (1902), A cueca performance in a tent in Parque Cousiño (1902),  Journal of the Institute of Humanities  (1909), Fitness review in the San Ignacio high school (1909), the funeral of Fernández Albano (1920), and the funeral of President Montt (1910).

”We believe that understanding these first years of the republic, also makes it possible for future generations to have a more complete view of Chilean cinema as a historical process and how it accompanied certain social processes—in this case, the idea of a modernism, accompanied by a sense nationalism,” said Morales. “[There were] elements of the culture that film-makers sought to instill in their work in the first decades of the 20th century as a way of creating a certain common national identity.”

CineChile plans to continue its archive work, opening up Chile’s film legacy more and more each year. The site currently provides over 3,500 files and materials for anyone interested in learning more about the country’s past, present, and future cinematic history. With the help of the Audiovisual Fund from the National Council for Culture and Arts, CineChile will continue to dig into the rich history of the country’s ever growing film scene.