Cinema Chile


October 25, 2022

To say Adrián Solar is to evoke many acronyms and proper names: Platino Awards, FIPCA, APCT, GOYA Awards, Matías Bize, Julio Rojas, new directors, the godfather and above all, producer.

From his home in Berlin, on the sixth floor of a building with no lift that keeps him in shape by using the stairs, he gives us this exclusive interview to talk about the humane and the divine in the world of production.

It all began in Berlin in September 1977, where he had moved there in February 1974. “It was my landing place after the coup,” he recalls and after being expelled from the University of Chile, where he studied social work


When did it all start?

The day I received my degree in Social Work at a Berlin Academy, they knocked on my door. It was a German film director, Christian Ziewer, who wanted to talk to me as recommended by my friend the writer Antonio Skármeta.

It was a small film, based on the book No pasó nada by Skármeta himself, about the adventures of a Chilean family and some teenagers in Berlin, and the director needed someone to help him open their homes to him. To understand how to express our culture and know how to translate it. Suddenly I saw myself in a car with the director and the first assistant, visiting houses of Chileans in the two Germanies, and so we could see how Chileans lived. References that served the film. The process took 4 months. At the end of the film, the director offered me to continue working for them and be the second assistant director.


I learned to know the way a film was made at a time when there were no cell phones, photocopies, fax machines and calls were voiced after filming, not everyone had phones at home, nor was there money to pick up people at their houses. None of that. But it was an experience that allowed me to know that the set did not excite me itself but to know that there was a future in cinema, and with that motivation, I began to do my Master in Communications at the Free University of Berlin



  Why not on set?

I liked the organization better. Topics such as: reaching agreements with actors, directors, TV channels, negotiations with vendors, I found them more entertaining.

I didn’t continue as a director’s assistant and I got into production. I started working on several German films, short and medium-length films in which I was the production assistant of the production companies. Several of these projects were also related to Antonio Skármeta and so I grew until I began to lead production and later executive production. It was the middle of the 80s. I was still based in Germany. I also went to Argentina, in the late 80’s, to produce La amiga, a film with actors such as Federico Luppi and Liv Ulman. And from there I continued working with Jeanine Meerapfel, one or two more films. She is the current President of the Berlin Academy of Arts.



Then it was time to return to Latin America

Yes. This began when the director of the series Heimat (trilogy that tells the whole history of Germany between 1919 and 2000) Edgard Reitz, considered one of the best German film directors, hired me to be his lead producer for El ciclista de San Cristóbal. After three months in Chile I became enthusiastic and decided that my homeland and affections were there as well. Then, I moved.



What characteristics, qualities, do you need to have to be a producer?

First, a lot of patience. An impressive patience because you will always receive more of a no than yes, and along with patience a little bit of humility to understand that you do not have to hate those who say no because maybe someday they will say yes. And develop the eye to identify attractive projects with audience potential.

Is that eye made or born with?

It’s made and with a lot of influence on the film culture you have. A producer who doesn’t have that culture is never going to be a good producer. A producer who only knows how to make numbers, submissions, ask for resources, pitching but has no film references is not going to work.


A producer does not have to write the scripts, but he does have to know how to read the scripts; he does not have to make a film, but he does have to know how to edit, and does not need to know how to direct but he has to know if the director is wrong or if he is directing the actors well, and always must have the whole movie in his head. It is a non-specialized jack of all trades


A producer once told me that they also must have a lot of psychology.

More than psychology, you must be respectful and understanding with people with whom you will not work, to know how to say no to projects that even if you know that they are good, you know that you will not feel comfortable working on them because you do not get along with the director or because the script is not that appealing to you, or because you’ve already made the mistake of making a movie like that and learned from those mistakes.

And a lot of diplomacy

Yes that too, but if I’m honest I have little of it, I’m too straightforward, but not abusive because that is different. Another feature is that today you have to speak languages. It is indispensable, all presentations for international markets where 90% of the time you speak English, so, at least you must have the basic knowledge of that language. And the other great ability is to network and understand that business is done personally. If they don’t know you and there’s no trust, there’s never gonna be an agreement.

How is this trust achieved when you are just starting?

It’s given by the strength of convictions and the quality of the project. The director, the screenwriter, which is what you offer as a producer. In my case, I do not need to earn so much trust from the point of view of credibility that a job is going to succeed, but I have to earn the trust based on the quality of the project.


The essential thing is to have a lot of patience, not to be frustrated, not to get angry, nor get too excited if during the first meeting they say they’ll think about it and give you a handshake, people get very excited and then months pass by, you start to insist and then you realize they’ll say no


In five years it will be more than 50 years of professional career for you. What changes have you seen transform the way we produce?

There are so many evolutions to which we must adapt… and everything is so vertiginous, the leap we took to digital was a tremendous one that changed the whole way of production and cinema, changed the whole way of screenings, the relationship with distributors, among other things.

There are lots of advancements, but I would say that what impresses me most is the courage, courage and skill of the young producers. I have great admiration for them. I also look at those who are directors and producers at the same time because it is not easy; it has advantages and disadvantages. For me one of the best directors/producers out there is Andrés Wood, perhaps due to his engineering background.





When does the journey of Adrián Solar occur that impels many new directors like Matías Bize, Fernando Guzzoni, or leads to becoming President of a Federation that includes all the producers of the Ibero-American region such as FIPCA?

They’re two different stages. The first is that I just get so enthusiastic with young directors. I think the first experience was with Alex Bowen. It was a first step, then came some erratic adventures.

Parallel to that, Julio Rojas introduced me to Matías Bize. I saw his first film Sábado, and I really liked it. And that’s where the trust that people had for me  came to place because I was the producer, nobody knew who those directors were and that was my task, to get Argentine, German, Spanish co-producers. But that didn’t stop to continue working with directors of my generation, such as Jorge Durán or Lucía Murat.

And how does it go from the first stage to the transition of being part of FIPCA, in 2012?

I was a member of the directive of the Association of Film and Television Producers of Chile (APCT), and to help its refoundation with other producers someone had to take charge of representing us before FIPCA.

I was welcomed at a time when the institution was not very active, but there was important potential. A couple of years later my colleague and Spanish friend José María Morales (Wanda Films) told me that I was one of the considered producers to take over the Presidency because “you are an active and awarded producer”, therefore, I had the merits to be one. I had won twice the Luis Buñuel Award for Best Production of the Year and obtained it with En la cama and La vida de los peces.


How was the start?

There were several things that helped. First, I immediately developed a very trusting relationship with Miguel Ángel Benzal, CEO of EGEDA (Audiovisual Producers’ Rights Management Entity).

We formed a very good presidency, I would not say that we started a refoundation, but we did work on successfully relaunch and position the FIPCA in front of institutions such as Ibermedia or the CAACI (Conference of Audiovisual and Cinematographic Authorities of Iberoamerica). We had a very good relationship from the beginning with Ibermedia and developed common actions with EGEDA as publishing the panorama of the Ibero-American Audiovisual that up to this day it is like a Bible for everyone.


We launched the Ibero-American Audiovisual Forums, and in the light of those forums the idea arose to create the Platino Awards, and at first we thought they should value the Star System, the quality of Ibero-American cinema because they did not have that space or if it it existed it was very low-key

Or there were a lot of local awards

Yes. We worked two years from 2012 to 2014 to generate a regulation, it was teamwork. We sought strategic alliances and managed to finance that first Platino with the Panamanian government,  but when the government changed it was not possible to continue with the agreement and hence the need for roaming the Awards.

We had to start looking elsewhere, very exhausted and hopeful, but also successful,  that’s why we went to Marbella, Punta del Este, Cancun twice and Madrid three times.

Will it keep rotating?

I believe that while next year it will be again in Madrid, it is good for the awards to be itinerant, since it brings us closer to our countries, our industries and the platforms that operate in our regions.

Do you need to have a firm hand to lead an enterprise as diverse as FIPCA?

That was already said by Omar de la Cruz, the director of Global Cinema, who congratulated me on the ability to unite under one institution, people, trends and styles so different.

I must say that it was achieved mainly by the good presidency relationship. Perhaps what I neglected were the relations with some members of the Board (the FIPCA Board is the instance where all member countries are represented) Who once accused me of being authoritarian. Not to contradict their wishes, but to impose criteria, but that is a deformation of the producer, producers are to put wheels to projects, not to put brakes, consultations and difficulties.


In the current presidency there is a strong presence of active producers, which is quite good. You have to rely very well on the rest of the Presidency, and there I could always work with a fairly loyal and very efficient team, especially the first years with Ignacio Rey, Antonio López, who are as the historical support of FIPCA, the memory of the institution


If there is any criticism I make to myself in this whole management it is that I have not taken sufficient care from the presidency to all the members of the Board, of the 18 countries, but, I also think, that a President cannot be concerned with all these issues, because that is also why the other members of the Presidency are there for, to act on behalf of the collective and to take on those tasks.

It’s a lot of work, I realize now the freedom I have to do and say many things and the time I have. I no longer have to be aware of every email that arrives and that you have to answer or refer, that you have to talk to institutions, nor to be present everywhere. But I also look at it with nostalgia and with much satisfaction over the last few years.



One is self-criticism which is a good exercise at the end of a chapter but what are the medals to wear?

I think that when we took FIPCA in 2012, it already existed 15 years ago, but without legal papers, and working to get it for an institution by representing 18 countries was not easy.

It was a very long struggle in which Antonio López, who is a lawyer and also Ignacio Rey, the current President, fought with great enthusiasm, until we got it and that allowed us to be partners in front of other institutions in legal form.

The other thing is that after a lot of years trying we managed to sign a historic agreement of Cooperation with the CAACI,  signed in Berlin, just before the Pandemic. And in whose management the whole Presidency of FIPCA and CAACI participated. Then came all the progress we made with the reform of the Ibero-American co-production rules.

There is also the permanent cooperation agreement we have with the Santander Festival that allows the presidency to meet once a year. This is a great achievement because it strengthens our relations with Spanish and Latin American producers and directors who attend the Festival. The approach to the San Sebastian Festival and the Malaga Festival, and lately an agreement that we will continue to develop with the European club of producers. It is an institution that brings together more than 100 outstanding producers who have a lot of influence on all EU programmes.

And the Platino Awards, right?

Out of all FIPCA goals, that is our greatest achievement, without a doubt. Now the Platino as all awards is evolving. As the founder of the Award, I am the Honorary President and I also belong to the Executive Committee of the Awards.

What are the challenges for the new FIPCA directive?

That is a matter for the current Presidency and the Board to define. For this I recommend reading an interview with Ignacio Rey in Latam Cinema.




Where is Chilean cinema and where can it go?

I believe that in Chile there is a terrible divorce between the quality of productions and the loyalty of the audience, and it is a subject to be overcome.

It is not true that independent cinema does not take people to cinemas, because it is possible to make serious films, genre, drama and captivate the audience. I believe that the APCT can devote time and effort to the re-enchantment of the audience

But it also happens due to new habits after the pandemic

Mexico had regained 90 per cent of the audience in cinemas; it would be useful to know how the Mexicans had done it.. To say that they are only platforms is just another argument, but it is not the only one, there is a problem of divorce director/producer with the audience and that needs to be addressed.


And for you personally, what is coming up now for Adrián Solar?

I have lots of projects in hand and am very excited. Seeing if I take on a project that I was requested for, and developing two new ones, one with my dear friend Julio Rojas in partnership with María Elena Wood with whom I’ve worked very well in the past, and another project with Matías Bize with quite an audience vocation. And also supporting the international premieres of El Castigo, and I feel that this film will undertake a long journey after the Tallinn Festival.  And, of course, dedicating my effort and affection, along with many others, to the upcoming editions of our Platino Awards.