2015 was definitively an interesting year for Chilean cinema. It was present at most of the major festivals in the world, and it generated some buzz regarding its good moments once again, something that has been the talk of the town since 2009 and the premiere in Sundance of Sebastian Silva's The Maid. Nevertheless, it was actually a quieter year, one that demonstrated more than ever that the filmmaking power of the country resides in its documentaries above anything else. As we are citizens of the world, we try to make sense of our position in it, as well as our recent history and how we should react to it.
Masterful directors returned to making movies, some new filmmakers arose and for the most part it was a pretty good year for the cinema of the country at the most south of the continent. But what does the future hold? The current situation is interesting. In the Chilean theaters there is a new law that managed to get more Chilean films into theaters than in any other year: over 45 films played on many screens all over the country, a triumph but at the same time a complex position in which to be as a maker. What's your goal, for the films to compete with one another or to create a Chilean film community (and not an industry)?
As those are more complex themes than the ones than the ones I wanted to tackle here, I will stop and tell you that here we have 10 Chilean films that were released in some way originally in 2015, so that means no 2013-14 carry-overs that only had their wide release this year. I will say in every capsule where it premiered originally.
About the order: The first five films are what I consider the best five Chilean films of 2015, while the rest is the next five best just in alphabetical order. So, on to the list!
The Pearl Button (El Botón de Nácar)
Directed by Patricio Guzmán.
Premiered at the Berlinale 2015
Guzmán is not only one of the greatest Chilean directors of all time, it's probably one of the most important documentary filmmakers working today, and this continuation on the themes that he started in his Nostalgia for the Light is surprisingly moving and not only ranks as the best Chilean film of the year, but for me it's also among the top three films of the year, such is its profound message that connects the death of Chilean prisoners during the military regime of Pinochet with the death of an entire indigenous race in the 19th and 20th century.
Water moves slowly and quickly, solid and liquid, and the imagery present here just forces the viewer to contemplate the space in which one lives and understand it in how the water holds more than we can initially think. One of the most beautifully shot films of the year, its cinematography rivals the one of The Assassin as the one that brings forward the most beautiful images, which go beyond the nature documentary stasis, as they move around, find new ways of compositing with digital technology, creating new worlds that are still based on a reality told by the people interviewed. A wonder and a surprise.