Youngsters on the Verge of a Nervous Breakdown By Boriana Mateeva

in 18th Toulouse Rencontres des Cinémas d'Amérique Latine

by Boriana Mateeva

After the upsurge of the New Argentinean Cinema over the last 10 years with its minimalist and intimist stories, centered on simple relationships between ordinary or marginal people, we are now happy to congratulate “the explosion of the Chilean Cinema”. In the FIPRESCI selection, composed of 8 films, 3 came from Chile, though it is not question of quantity but of artistic quality. Adding some other titles out of our competition, it became obvious that in Chile things are going well.

The Holy Family (La Sagrada Familia) by Sebastian Campos (Grand Prix “Coup du Coeur”and the FIPRESCI Prize), In Bed (En la cama) by Matiaz Bize (The Audience Award), Brackets (Parentesis) by Francisca Schweitzer and Pablo Solis and For Rent (Se arrienda) by Alberto Fuguet – are all films by young filmmakers (recently graduated from film schools, around their 30’s but not older) depicting the conflicts, frustration, isolation and hopes of their own generation. With low budgets, digital technology and very often using hand-held cameras in a Dogma 95 style, they are fascinated by everyday life, the natural, relaxed and inefficient behaviour of people of their age. That is why they have succeeded in creating a very high degree of trust with their actors (all extremely good and convincing) who don’t seem to perform but just live their roles. This style avoids classic genre structures, uses improvisations and follows the logic of the characters. But it does not lack drama and visual impact.

The main conflict is the psychological clash of generations – fathers and sons don’t share the same values, don’t have the same aims and ideals. The youngsters generally don’t have any ideals, are nervous, excited or depressed – they look for love, understanding and freedom, but are not ready to struggle for them, they prefer rather to smoke a joint and escape the complexity of life. Conflicts appear also in the relationships between young men and women. Life is no longer simple and they have difficulties in loving and sharing their lives. In all the films the circumstances of everyday life compel them to make a choice that makes them mature and stronger. The weak-willed son of The Holy Family chooses the true love of a strange, almost mute girl and runs away with her ; Daniela, the young woman in In the Bed chooses to marry the man she really loves after an exciting night with a stranger in a motel room ; Gaston, the composer in For Rent returns to creation after his boring experience of being a real-estate agent; the couple in Brackets reconcile after meeting an eccentric exuberant girl, full of vitality (despite her mental disease).

Concerning visual expression, Chilean directors are not simply Dogma 95 followers – they search further spectacular ways to communicate with audiences. Experimental and highly personal in their concepts, they have created a hybrid form with both local and universal impact. The satiric metaphoric references in The Holy Family, the free visual style of Brackets, using music video aesthetics, the classic structure of unity of time, place and action in The Bed and the traditional identity drama in For Rent show a large range of artistic approaches, far from the clichés of the commercial cinema.