The latest event in Santiago’s bulging cinema scene gets under way this week with the sixteenth International Documentary Festival of Santiago (FIDOCS). This week-long event offers the opportunity to see a wide array of documentary films from around the world, and is widely regarded as the most important festival of its kind in Chile. With over seventy films being screened in venues in central Santiago, FIDOCS 2012 looks set to continue the success of previous years in showcasing the most prestigious films from the international documentary circuit.
The festival runs from Tuesday June 26th until Monday July 2nd, and this year’s event is based around the Lastarria and Alameda neighbourhood in three local venues. The focal point is Centro Cultural Gabriela Mistral (GAM), which will show several films each day throughout the festival, and will also host numerous extra activities and events. In addition, the nearby micro-cine of the Universidad Católica and the Lastarria 90-DUOC theatre will both show films on a daily basis.
FIDOCS was first held in 1997 and since then it has been a mainstay of the Chilean cultural calendar, with the aim of bringing some of the world’s most fascinating films to new audiences. There is also an emphasis on Chilean documentary that sees the festival support national filmmakers and provide them with the necessary platform from which their work can be exhibited. The director of FIDOCS is Chilean director Patricio Guzmán whose films, including The Battle of Chile and Nostalgia for the Light, have been shown in previous years before going on to gain international recognition and success.
Palestina al Sur
There are two categories of official competition at FIDOCS 2012, the first of which is the award for best national documentary, where a number of intriguing Chilean films are nominated. These include Palestina al Sur, which follows a group of Palestinian refugees as they seek to build a life in Chile; Hardcore: La Revolución Inconclusa, a look at the Santiago post-punk Hardcore movement; and El Sonido del Eco, which draws parallels between the Mapuche political struggle and environmental issues in the south of the country. Judging the national competition are French documentary-maker Jean de Certeau, award-winning Chilean director Paula Gómez Vera, and Peruvian film critic and writer Claudio Cordero.
Cuates de Australia
The second category is that of best Latin American documentary. Among the films up for award are Cuates de Australia, named after a poverty and drought-stricken community of peasant landowners in Mexico and their struggle to survive; Argentinian film Escuela Normal, which focuses on the democratic process at work in a high school; and El Lugar Mas Pequeño, which looks at the aftereffects of El Salvador’s brutal civil war. On the jury panel are Chilean director Maria Paz Rodriguez, whose documentary Hija won the national award in 2011, Chilean novelist Álvaro Bisama, and the programmer of the Buenos Aires Independent Film Festival (BAFICI), Flavia de la Fuente.
The International Panorama section features a number of films from many renowned directors. Werner Herzog’s harrowing look at the Death Row prison system is starkly laid out in Into the Abyss, while a lighter tone is carried in Crazy Horse, the story of one of Paris’s most famous cabaret venues from Frederick Wiseman. Tahrir, directed by Stefano Savona, follows three young men as they take to the streets in the Egyptian Revolution of 2011. Then there is John Akomfrah’s The Nine Muses, a surreal video and music montage of landscapes and immigration, inspired by The Odyssey.
Into The Abyss
With such an eclectic array of films, plus a series of other features and public events being staged throughout the festival, FIDOCS 2012 provides an excellent opportunity to participate in one of Chile’s key cinematic events and to see some of the most cutting-edge international documentaries of the last year, as well as several older films being screened for the first time in Chile. For anyone with more than a passing interest in film (which is pretty much all of us), this should prove to be a fascinating week of cinema in Santiago.
16th International Documentary Festival of Santiago (FIDOCS) 2012
Tuesday 26th June – Monday 2nd July
Centro Cultural Gabriela Mistral (GAM), Avenida Libertador Bernado O’Higgins 227
Laatarria 90-DUOC, Calle Victorino Lastarria 90
Sala de Cine Universidad Católica, Avenida Libertador Bernado O’Higgins 390
Metro Universidad Católica for all venues (Line One)
General Admission $2500
Students and Elderly $1500
Pack of five entries $7000
Pack of ten entries $10000
For all further information (inc. program, workshops, public events etc) check the official website www.fidocs.cl