Chile's Valdivia Film Festival Kicks Off Under New Direction

Raul Camargo - H 2014
Courtesy of Valdivia Film Festival

Raul Camargo - H 2014

Director Raul Camargo is steering the country's renowned fest towards native rights and environment awareness

VALDIVIA, Chile – The 21st edition of the Valdivia Film Festival kicked off on Tuesday under new director Raul Camargo, who dedicated this edition to the late filmmaker Raul Ruiz, Jorge Teillier, and the country's World Cup hero Gary Medel during the opening ceremony hosted by actresses Blanca Lewin and Mariana Loyola.

The new director, appointed after the jump of former head Bruno Bettati to government consulting, outlined the fest's new profile on his opening speech, before the screening of Thom Andersen’s The Tony Longo Trilogy and the world premiere of Tiziana Panizza’s earthquake reflection Land in Motion.

“Our aim is to establish a festival that can be what we wish our country would: multicultural, plurinational, and solidary,” said Camargo.

Currently gaining momentum as one of the most renowned among LatAm independent film festivals such as Bafici (Argentina) or Ficunam (Mexico) – “the biggest among the smallest,” as it was described by a city official – Valdivia has been one of the strongest supporters of the wave of independent Chilean cinema that gathered awards in art-house festivals in recent years, with young directors like Cristian Jimenez (Voice Over), Sebastian Lelio (Gloria), Dominga Sotomayor (Thursday Till Sunday), Matias Bize (The Life of Fish), Marialy Rivas (Young and Wild), and Alejandro Fernandez Almendras (To Kill a Man). 

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Camargo’s new lead is expected to add a more socially concerned focus, raising awareness on environmental issues and native people’s rights.

“We’re in the Los Rios (‘The Rivers’) region, and our rivers are a source of life and biodiversity, but sadly this is currently under the threat of hydroelectric projects that menace all forms of life here, including sacred territories of the mapuche nation Wallmapu. This is a city that has fought to defend itself, so just as it has defended its cinema, now we expect it will defend its rivers and sacred native territories,” he added.

This year the festival has included First Nations, a program of films on indigenous issues from all across Latin America, as well as a mission stated by Camargo himself: to extend festival activities throughout the year. “We have the artistic and human capability to educate audiences through our films, either classics or cult movies,” stated Camargo.

“Our dream is to shorten the gap between films and their audiences. Cinema is not elitist: there are films for everyone,” he added.

The Valdivia Film Festival runs Oct. 7 – 12 in Southern Chile.