SANTIAGO, Chile French director Mikhael Hers’ “Amanda” scooped up the Best Int’l Film award Saturday (Aug. 24) at the 15th Santiago Int’l Film Fest (Sanfic), which reported a 20% audience uptick in the past two years and continues to grow its reputation as the most vibrant and prominent film festival in Latin America’s Southern cone.
Hailed by Variety critic Guy Lodge as a “nourishingly classical tear-jerker as well as a glowing valentine to Paris’s endurance in the age of modern terrorism,” Hers’ third feature has been collecting a raft of trophies since its world premiere at Venice last year, including Venice’s Golden Lantern Award as well as the Grand Prix and Best Screenplay awards at Tokyo.
Colombia’s Alejandro Landes, best known for his career-launching drama, “Porfirio,” snagged the best director prize for “Monos,” his apocalyptic vision of a rebel group of teenagers in the jungle, while young actress Helena Zengel took home the best actor prize for her extraordinary performance in “System Crasher” as a nine-year old whose extreme behavior strains social workers and her mother alike.
The Best Chilean Film award went to Joanna Reposi Garibaldi’s documentary “Lemebel,” winner of the Teddy Award at the Berlinale, which weaves evocative archive footage, talking-head interviews and grainy home movies to present a moving portrait of the late Chilean performance artist, writer and LGBT activist, Pedro Lemebel.
“Harley Queen,” a drama about a woman seeking her identity in Chile’s biggest ghetto, brought a best director award to its helmers Carolina Adriazola and Jose Luis Sepulveda, and best actor to its lead, Catalina Flores.
“We have indeed noticed an increase in our audience; I think it’s because we have kept our programming fresh and new every year,” said artistic director Carlos Nuñez, who runs the festival along with Storyboard Media partner, Gabriela Sandoval, who manages Sanfic’s Industry section.
Among the festival’s myriad industry events, Sanfic hosted its first Women’s Encounter where more than 30 women in the biz gathered to discuss their individual experiences and the challenges they faced in Latin America’s audiovisual industry. Among issues discussed were how to navigate a predominantly male workplace where hours are long, and therefore an issue for women with families, to making sure titles about female leads were not denigrating. “We get titles like “La Loca” (“The Crazy One”) if it’s a woman and “The Angel” if it’s about a man,” one participant pointed out.
Plans are afoot to hold similar Women’s Encounters at Ventana Sur and Guadalajara, per Sandoval.
“We agreed to form this network in order to strengthen the work of female filmmakers and forge more alliances in the business,” said Sandoval at the awards ceremony of Sanfic Industry, where female directors or producers were involved in more than half the projects and works in progress.
Santiago International Film Festival 2019 Winners
“Amanda,” Mikhael Hers (France)
Alejandro Landes, “Monos” (Colombia, Argentina, Germany, Uruguay, Sweden)
Helena Zengel, “System Crasher” (Germany)
“The Third Wife,” Ash Mayfair (Vietnam)
“Song Without a Name,” Melina Leon (Peru)
“Lemebel,” (Joanna Reposi Garibaldi)
Carolina Adriazola, Jose Luis Sepulveda, “Harley Queen”
Catalina Flores, “Harley Queen”
“Amukan,” Francisco Toro Lessen
“Extrañas Criaturas,” Cristobal Leon
Best Short, Special Mention
“El Milagro” Daniela Lopez Lugo