Night cap with En Busca de un Tierno Silencio
Do you have a personal experience of the Pinochet period in Chile and its consequences?
Yes. My family has been persecuted since the 11 September 1973 strike. I was born in 1977, into a family kicked by dictatorship. My father was part of a theatre company called ALEPH, some of the members were imprisoned, one of them disappeared and others were exiled. Nowadays this company continues to exist, giving magnetic and strong theater pieces to the world. They are based in Paris, in Ivry-sur-Seine, were they found a home to start again. My father’s brother was exiled and so were his cousins, as they were part of the music band Inti-Illimani. Exiled in England and Italy, they worked relentlessly to make Chile free again. I grew up in a sad country, forced to live a life without demonstrations, without freedom, and silenced. My family didn’t talk too much about this, as they wanted to protect us as children. Also, because of the pain and fear. Remembering this past is something they don’t want to explore, even in memories. For the victims, it is hard to go back, to face that time. They prefer to move forward. So, when you try to answer questions about the past in Chile, the most frequent answer you get is silence. With all those silences, you eventually understand and start to feel that silence can have many different colors and emotions.
Are the characters based on people you know or have spoken with?
In 1998, I decided to make a journey through this history, going to the places my family where exiled to, trying to reconnect with those feelings and have conversations with them, about coming back to Chile. I realized that when your country is destroyed, it can stay fixed in your mind, as a nostalgic place. So, for those who were exiled, a country fixed in memories stayed there. Some of them still living outside Chile try to live in that country forever, others try to forget it. For those who came back to Chile, and faced a country silenced for 17 years that had changed completely, it was devastating. The nostalgic and magic place built in memories collapsed against a hard reality. People silenced for years, who didn’t want to talk, full of pain, fear and hate. But there must be something good in this, I still believe that humans can step up and make something better, or at least try to find good feelings and make something beautiful from this sadness. En Busca de un Tierno Silencio is about this: the main character knows that in all those sad silences there must be at least one different, the one that can give him a nice and tender moment. Finally, they destroyed people’s lives, they tried to separate and kill everything, but they couldn’t destroy friendship and happiness.
What do you make of the new generation’s approach to politics in Chile?
There’s strong pessimism, in all generations. The older ones, from the 1950s, 60s and 70s experienced how the country changed and they think there’s nothing to do. Then, people from the 1980s, grew up surrounded with this feeling: “There’s nothing to do”. In the 1990s arrived a new generation who thinks that “nothing matters”. But future generations, from 2000, are now creating movements, organizing themselves and giving a new energy to demonstrations. The flag is different nowadays, focused on specific topics. Anyway, changes must be done from a solid base, creating a real new way of understanding society and economics. Basing things on the market economy system can’t be sustainable, as production chains are changing fast, commodities are at risk, and inequity is morbid.
The actor playing Juan gives a powerful performance. How did you cast him?
Daniel Candia is an actor with a long career in Chile. He played recently in a feature film awarded around the world: To Kill a Man. Also, we worked with him as a supporting actor in two feature films we produced: La Holandesa (premiered at Toronto Film Fest 2017) and De la Noche a la mañana (in editing). So, as we were looking for an actor in his fifties with some political background, we decided to work with him. We called him and he connected immediately with the story.
What other subjects are you keen to explore?
At the moment we are finishing a feature film, currently in post-production, dealing with this idea of coming back from exile, but in a different way: coming back in a surrealist way, like coming back in a dream, exploring the magic of Latin American storytelling. It’s a very moving social film, with an interesting point of view on society’s silence. Also I’m working on two other scripts: one is about my grandmother and her journey during the dictatorship outside Chile, crossing borders and travelling a long way, as she decided to reconnect with family and live again in that “home” lost years ago; and the other one is about new generations and society. It will be the portrait of a dichotomy, exploring emotions and experiences felt by a main character moving between these two worlds: the official and the underground.
Would you say that the short film format has given you any particular freedom?
In this case, I wanted to stay fixed in a feeling and give a potent historical context without focusing too much on it, and give more attention to the main character and his memories. So, when making the film, we didn’t spend too much time on context explanations, as they are present within the sounds and feelings experienced, so dialogue is simple and the journey carries us on an emotional, rather than historical, path. I think it worked, as the context remains very strong and the ending feels like some kind of punch straight to the heart.