1122 GMT July 15, 2020
Films made by this ever-growing generation of female producers are “ever more robust, of a larger caliber, with big casts, and made in international co-production, not small films made with just Chilean funding,” said Constanza Arena, executive director of Chilean film-TV promotion board CinemaChile. She cites Florencia Larrea’s ‘My Tender Matador,’ Macarena Lopez’s ‘La Felicidad,’ Gabriela Sandoval’s ‘Jailbreak Pact’ and Karina Jury’s ‘Vera de Verdad,’ co-produced with Italy and selected for the Marché du Film’s Frontières genre showcase.
“The whole industry is evolving in how we make films and tell stories,” said Roció Jadue, head of Latin American film at Fabula. “Audiences are looking for new stories, not necessarily complicated, nor feminist ones, but simply ones which relate with a more or less a female audience that wants to see stories that represent them.”
“With the advent of new distribution platforms, led by Netflix, we’re seeing big changes in the industry as demand for premium content rises,” noted Larrea, who has observed higher production values, more competitive titles and a boom in talent.
“Women have taken advantage of this evolution, bringing a new vision, subjects with other protagonists; stories which have to be told by women, not only directors and writers but also directors of photography, in art and sound design and editing,” Jadue said.
Female directors of photography of recent films include Maura Moraes (‘Entierro’), Francisca Saez (‘Héctor’), Valeria Fuentes (‘Perro Bomba’), Emilia Martín (‘Fiebre Austral’), Laura Salinas (‘Haciendo Sombra’) and Michelle Bossy (‘Fiebre’).
To date, there are four noteworthy editors: Soledad Salfate (‘A Fantastic Woman,’ ‘Gloria Bell’), Andrea Chignoli (‘No,’ ‘Araña’), Melisa Miranda (‘El Pacto de Adriana,’ ‘El Viaje de Monalisa’) and Camila Mercadal (‘Flow’).
A handful of femme filmmakers are venturing into genre films, led by Paulette Lecaros and Yeniffer Fasciani of Niebla Prods. With their supernatural thriller ‘Ancestra’ and Florencia Dupont and Pilar Díaz of Santiago Independiente, who took home the inaugural Morbido Fest prize at last year’s Santiago International Film Festival (Sanfic) for ‘Aracne,’ a noirish thriller set in Santiago.
In recognition of this surge, 2019’s Sanfic hosted its first Women’s Encounter in which more than 30 Latin American women got together to relate their individual experiences and the challenges they faced in the region’s audiovisual industry. As they sat in a circle, they exchanged anecdotes and advice on how to navigate a predominantly male workplace, long work hours and the right work-home balance.
The conversation continues to this day. “One good thing to come out of this COVID-19 pandemic and the lockdown is that it has made the men now working from home realize how challenging it is to balance one’s work and home life,” said Sandoval, Storyboard Media producer and Sanfic Industry head. Aside from producing historical drama ‘El Cardenal’ and executive producing Sofia Paloma Gomez and Camilo Becerra’s drama ‘Quizas es Cierto lo que Dicen de Nosotros,’ she is producing the debut feature documentaries of upcoming directors Patricia Correa (‘Tercer Acto’) and Francina Carbonell (‘El Cielo Está Rojo’). She recalls that more than half of the projects and works in progress at last year’s Sanfic Industry featured female directors or producers.
“Women are more collaborative, we help each other; we form friendships, not rivalries,” said Karina Jury, who’s also producing children’s series and documentaries. She concurs, moreover, that women are more suited to producing as they tend to be more detail-oriented and adept at multitasking.
Jury noticed a change in Chile after returning from six years in Italy. “Our male directors are less misogynistic, more respectful, even more admiring of women,” she noted, partly crediting the #MeToo movement for the shift in attitudes.
“I make sure my sets are democratic: Everyone eats at the same time, there’s no shouting and no one is considered more important than the other,” said Larrea, who is also co-producing Argentine Martin Rejtman’s comedy ‘La Practica’ with Argentina’s La Union de los Rios, Pandora (Germany) and Rosa Filmes (Portugal).
In 2017, a group of five Chilean women in the biz formed femme networking group Nosotros Audiovisuales, which swiftly grew to a membership of some 3,000 today. “Our goals are threefold: to raise our members’ visibility, promote their work and encourage networking,” said co-manager Elisa Torres.
While the number of female producers and — to a lesser extent — directors have blossomed, there are still only a few in the fields of editing or cinematography.
“It’s been harder to penetrate the boys’ clubs in these fields,” Torres said. “That may be one other reason most women have turned to producing.”
*Shalini Dore is news features editor at Variety, overseeing production in the features department. Before joining Variety she worked at various daily newspapers in Southern California as reporter, editor and designer.