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Pablo Larrain became the first Chilean director to be awarded Telluride’s silver medallion over the weekend, where he took part in two Q&A’s on Sunday night and Monday morning and introduced his new film, Neruda.
A drama about the great Chilean poet’s flight from the authorities in the late 1940s, Neruda continues Larrain’s fascination with his country’s political history — “I do believe every movie is political,” he said — and in particular the era of General Augusto Pinochet, the dictator who ruled Chile from 1973 to the late 1990s, although the new film takes place before that time.
Interviewed by Davia Nelson on Sunday morning onstage at the Chuck Jones Theater, Larrain — whose films include 2010’s Post Mortem and 2012’s No — surprised many audience members by revealing not just that he comes from a family of politicians, but also that his family leans to the right. His father, Hernan Larrain, is a senator with the conservative Independent Democratic Union. The filmmaker’s own work seriously questions Pinochet and his right-wing supporters.
Larrain, 40, said his views, particularly on cinema, were shaped by some of the movies he watched growing up — those that weren’t banned in Chile, that is. They included Robert Zemeckis’ Back to the Future and Werner Herzog’s Fitzcarraldo.
“Its [theme is] essential to cinema: time,” he said of the former film, while the latter, with its story of “people pushing that boat over a hill,” represented “a metaphor” of moviemaking as well as life.
Along with clips from his previous pictures, Larrain showed two scenes from his upcoming Jackie Kennedy biopic Jackie, which debuts Wednesday at the Venice Film Festival before screening at Toronto.
Larrain said he had received an unexpected call from Darren Aronofsky just before Neruda got underway, asking him to make the Jackie O movie. His biggest alteration to the script, he said, was to take out one-third of the scenes, those that did not directly feature the former first lady. He then told Aronofsky that he would only make the picture if the latter’s Black Swan star, Natalie Portman, played the lead, and Aronofsky set up a meeting between them in Paris. “She’s an extraordinary, extraordinary actress,” Larrain noted.
Although Jackie does not yet have an American distributor and release set, it is possible Portman could be the latest addition to a super-heated best actress race that includes such promising contenders as Emma Stone (La La Land), Viola Davis (Fences) and Annette Bening (20th Century Women).
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