Since the murder of George Floyd in the United States on May 25th, the Black Lives Matter (BLM) movement, which seeks to bring justice, healing and freedom to the black community, has taken the streets of different world capitals. This transversal movement has permeated the cultural conversation of the audiovisual industry, with a new importance placed on revisiting and denouncing racism in films and series, as well as in generating direct access to content, seen though the new BLM tag that Netflix has created, and the interactive curatorships created by MUBI users.
With a cautionary awareness so that the movement isn't co-opted by large companies or a marketing and branding strategy, it becomes important as an industry to delve into the reasons for this much-needed change and how it is applicable to our collective experience lived in Chile.
The two films of this week's Thursdays of Chilean Cinema pose deep questions concerning the racism prevalent in our society. They redefine what it means to make “political films” in Chile, that for many years was directly related to the military dictatorship, and which these films reposition from another viewpoint and contemporary materiality. We are talking about “Petit Frère” and “The Doubt”, which are now available for worldwide streaming during one week.
In recent months, anti-immigrant strikes have been held in Santiago, and the Supreme Court of Justice approved the expulsion of migrants despite having children of Chilean nationality. In the light of these occurrences, it is of utmost importance to highlight the stories that pose a complex look at the experience of being a Haitian migrant in Chile, and the value of an intercultural country. “Petit Frère” and “The Doubt” are films that restore humanity to its characters, creating subjectivities and aesthetics that reflect on how to represent the “other.”
“Petit Frère” is the first documentary feature film directed by Rodrigo Robledo and Roberto Collío, an audiovisual work that took five years to see the light. The film is based on questions about country and identity, through the point of view of a leader within the Haitian community, Wilner Petit-Frère. Along with his personal history, the nuances and singularities of the story were discovered during the process of making the film.
Financed by the Development Fund granted by CORFO and the Audiovisual Fund granted by the Ministry of Culture, Arts and Heritage, through the Council of Art and the Audiovisual Industry, the film was produced by Isabel Orellana of Araucaria Cine. Alba Gaviraghi and Daniela Zárate worked in the general production on set, and they were also in charge of the research and development of the project.
The premiere of “Petit Frère” was at one of the most important documentary festivals in the world, the Visions Du Réel Festival in the Burning Light section. The film narrates the creation of the “Haitian Publishing House in Chile” and the life of Petit-Frère, intertwining archives, audiovisual materials and texts, which build a mosaic of stories about the Haitian community residing in Chile.
In 2014, Collío premiered his first short film White Death in the Pardi di Domani competition at the Locarno Film Festival where he received the Special Jury Mention. The work covered a wide circuit of festivals where it managed to obtain different awards, such as the Golden Dove of DOK Leipzig and the Crystal Globe of Karlovy Vary. In addition to directing, Collío has worked as a sound engineer in works by different Chilean talents, including Claudia Huaiquimilla, Camila José Donoso and Nicolás Videla. He is also a member of the CEIS8 collective.
In 2011, Robledo wrote and directed his first documentary short film “Desayuno”, an experimental work that portrays the mind of his grandfather with Alzheimer's. His second short, “The Education of Children”, was shown at the London Open City Docs Festival. In addition to being a director, he has worked as an editing assistant with Andrea Chignoli, and in Pablo Larraín's film Post Mortem. He is currently a professor at the University of Santiago (USACH).
Accompanying this powerful documentary, we are showing “The Doubt”, a short film by director Juan Cáceres that tells the story of Junior, a young Haitian who arrives in Chile and must face the difficulties of being an immigrant without a work visa and the abuse of power by from his boss.
“The Doubt” addresses issues such as racial discrimination, workplace harassment and homosexuality. It was premiered at the Curta Kinoforum Short Film Festival in Brazil and stars Haitian actor Steevens Benjamin and actor Alfredo Castro, while the production was in charge of Infractor Producciones and Pejeperro Films.
This production, which addresses the contradictions faced by a Haitian newcomer to Chile, is the prelude to the award-winning film “Perro Bomba” by Cáceres. One of the most important Chilean films of 2019, it premiered in the Miami International Film Festival and the Guadalajara International Film Festival. As in “The Doubt”, “Perro Bomba” portrays our society through the representation of the Haitian community and the discrimination prevelant in Chilean society.
Cáceres is an editor, screenwriter and film director, as well as a producer of content for new media and the internet. In 2016, he directed the fictional short “Desiderio”, that premiered at SANFIC 12. “Martirio”, his first feature-length script, received a jury mention in the script contest of the Arcos Institute and the FICV 22, and also participated in Panama Lab. His first film “Perro Bomba”, was one of the most successful Chilean movies of 2019, shown in multiple theaters in Chile and around the world.