Chile’s Vibrant Documentary Scene at Berlinale With ‘Oasis’ and ‘Towards the Sun, Far From the Center’

Rexa Vella

Chile’s Vibrant Documentary Scene at Berlinale With ‘Oasis’ and ‘Towards the Sun, Far From the Center’

Buoyed by the Oscar nomination of Chile’s very own Maite Alberdi for her poignant doc, “The Eternal Memory,” Chile’s documentary sector could not be more vibrant.

Debuting at the Berlinale’s Forum sidebar is “Oasis,” the latest feature doc from the Mapa Fílmico de un País (MAFI) collective and the hybrid LGBTIQ+ themed short film “Towards the Sun, Far from the Center.” Directed by Luciana Merino and Pascal Viveros and produced by Javiera Pineda, it vies for the best short film and the Teddy awards.

Both have their world premieres on Monday, Feb. 19.

Competing for the best documentary feature prize, “Oasis” is helmed by Tamara Uribe and Felipe Morgado and produced by Alba Gaviraghi and Diego Pino. It chronicles the turbulent times that led Chile to attempt a re-write of the Pinochet-era Constitution.

“We are pleased about this invitation and to be able to show our film. With it, we want to contribute images and reflection to this political and social process that has been historic for our country and unprecedented for the world, from a collective point of view,” said Uribe.

“‘Towards the Sun, Far from the Center ‘is a symphony of a city that is wondering and trying to discover the sentimental architecture of Santiago,” said Merino. “I like to think of the short film as a vanishing point that allows us to imagine new possibilities and landscapes for the place we inhabit,” added Viveros.

“Today, the documentary serves as a great ambassador for Chilean cinema, led this year by ‘The Eternal Memory’ and ‘Malqueridas,’ the latter receiving three awards at the Venice Film Festival’s Critics’ Week,” said Paula Ossandón, director of Chiledoc, which aims to foster and promote Chilean documentaries worldwide.

“Our documentary sector has consolidated its artistic and technical quality and, above all, its ability to attract global audiences with the themes it addresses,” she pointed out.

On Sunday, Feb. 18, Chiledoc will be hosting a cocktail event where Ossandón will kick off with a talk on Chile’s state funding for film and television in a bid to further enhance and promote co-productions with the country.  

Towards the Sun, Far from the Center

Among the large Chilean delegation attending Berlinale is Carola Fuentes of La Ventana Cine, a renowned documentary production company (“Chicago Boys,” “Breaking the Brick”) and television content producer (“¿Qué comes?,” “#Por qué en mi jardín”).

“We closed 2023 with four international co-productions, and that has us very excited. We are convinced that even though Chile can be considered a small market in terms of audience, it is an enormous source of stories waiting to be told and shared with the rest of the world, and that fills us with passion,” said Fuentes, adding: “EFM is one of the most important markets on the circuit. For us, it’s an opportunity to meet in person with our co-producers – the German company Taglicht Media – and connect with other potential allies or producers with whom we can start new projects together.”  

Alberdi competed for the best documentary feature Oscar in 2021 with her charming “The Mole Agent” but lost out to “My Octopus Teacher” from Netflix. Given its rousing reception since its premiere and grand jury prize win at Sundance, “The Eternal Memory” has a good shot at bringing home the gold this time around.

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