Today in a new edition of our weekly program we are taking a look at films made by two emerging directors. They are both Latin American co-productions that take us on vastly different paths, putting an emphasis on the transformative power of each journey. As they invite audiences to unknown places, surprising and daring answers are found, portals from which to pose new questions. Story of My Name by Karin Cuyul and Aicha by Vinko Tomicic are gripping films by exciting new voices in our national cinema, and they paint profound portraits of their surroundings, shot in Chile and Bolivia respectively.
Story of My Name, Karin Cuyul's award-winning debut film, is an autobiographical road-movie that weaves the director's family history with Chile's recent past, building multiple bridges of identification for global audiences. Screened from Greece to Colombia and awarded in the Burning Lights section of Rotterdam in 2019, the documentary crosses deserts and islands of Chile to reconstruct memories that have been forgotten and omitted from the predominant narrative, pieced together with a sincere and powerful author-driven gaze.
The documentary has a clear starting point, the place from which all the other elements that emerge become intertwined: a fire that affected Karin's house prompts her to explore the places of her childhood, leading her to wonder about her own name. Twenty years before this traumatic event, another woman named Karin (Karin Eitel) was arrested and tortured by Pinochet's secret police. Upon learning of this story, Cuyul's mother decides to give her daughter this name. In the film, this discovery leads to profound reflections about the generation of Chileans who grew up in a country that was just emerging from a fierce and violent dictatorship.
At the time of its premiere, Cuyul told us about this essential element of Story of My Name: “It seemed very necessary to create a metaphor of the country in the context of the return of democracy and the silence that came from there with the fire that happened in my home and the disappearance of my family memories. In some way, both events meant starting from scratch after a violent event, and both are related to memory, silence, loss ”.
The film was produced by Dominga Sotomayor (Too Late to die young, Locarno 2018) of Cinestación, Josephine Schroeder of Pequén Producciones and, from Brazil, Ana Alice de Morais of 3 MOINHOS. Currently, Pequén Producciones is finishing Gaucho Americano by Nicolás Molina (Flow, Sheffield 2018) and developing Cuyul’s second film, The Life That Will Come, both auteur documentaries.
In Aicha by Vino Tomicic, we are immersed in an expedition that goes from night to dawn, walking the streets of La Paz with a group of friends who work shining shoes across the city. With them, we cross different parts of the city in celebration of the main character's birthday, Martín. In a nightclub he falls in love with a dancer, who reappears amid superstitions, wine bottles and flashes of light. Cracks in the wall make up a map of a journey that returns to the starting point: the face of a woman who doesn’t stop dancing, the possibilities of an encounter that never occurred.
Co-produced between Bolivia, Argentina and Chile, during 2019 the short film was shown extensively in festivals that include Guadalajara, Biarritz and Chicago Latino, among others.
The work was the beginning of a filmic universe that Tomicic continues to explore today through his feature-length project about a group of shoe shiners: Perros. Currently in development, the project was selected at the Biennale College Cinema of the Venice Film Festival, the Cinefondation Residence at the Cannes Film Festival and won the CNC Best Pitch Cinéfondation Award at Cannes 2019.
In parallel to the development of this film, Tomicic is working as a teacher and script consultant with his training project "The Film Incubator". Following the premiere of his debut feature El fumigador in 2016, that competed in PÖFF Tallinn Black Nights and was recognized as Best Film in SANFIC Tomicic has explored a point of view that melds social reflection with a unique point of view.