Augusto Pinochet’s repressive military regime still haunts artistes in Chile. Filmmaker Francisca Silva has tried to metaphorically portray the authoritarian rule through personal relations in her movies.

“It is difficult to erase the memories of Pinochet’s regime from the Chilean psyche. Those horrific events find mention in one art form or the other,” admits Ms. Silva whose first feature film, Ivan’s Woman, was screened at the Fifth Bangalore International Film Festival (BIFFes) on Sunday.

The film is a dark and chilling depiction of the life of Ivan and Natalia. “It is not based on my personal experience. I was inspired by the kidnapping of a 15-year-old girl and the relationship that developed between her and her abductor,” Ms. Silva said.

She tries to convey how a young women coming of age acquires a new level of intimacy in the closed environment of captivity. “Similar cases had been reported in Latin America. I tried to present the subject through a distinct narration, exploring the feelings of love and freedom,” Ms. Silva said. Asked about the state of freedom of expression in her country, she said: “Chile is a capitalist nation being ruled by businessmen. Though there is peace in the country, people are facing serious problems because of mining. However, there is no threat to freedom of expression in the past two decades ever since Chile embraced democracy.

“We make personal films and it is through them we find our identity. The fulcrum of Chilean cinema is intensely personal and deals with family and relationships. Over 40 films are being produced in the country in a year and new generation filmmakers are concentrating on the life of the common man and his search for identity. Of late, both the government and film companies in Europe are investing in Latin American cinema,” she said.

Noting that though Chile had achieved much in terms of economic and cultural freedom compared with neighbouring countries, Ms. Silva said economic disparities were quite widespread. “Education and healthcare are expensive. The government policies are just for the namesake and they are not reaching the poor.”

Ms. Silva has high regards for Pablo Larrain, the director of No, and veteran director Raoul Ruiz. “They have dealt with the suffering of the people during the authoritarian rule,” she says.

Apart from directing, Ms. Silva has dabbled in acting too.

Ms. Silva’s first short film, Joya (2006), was selected for the National Talent Category at the Second Santiago International Film Festival and received the Special Jury recognition award at the Fourth Talca Film Festival. Her second venture, Jack and Porcelain (2007), got her a scholarship to attend the Summer University Film School in Paris.

Besides winning the International Film Critics award, the film has been nominated for Ankara Flying Broom International Women’s Film Festival 2012.


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