Cinema Chile


March 8, 2022

We are happy to announce that 1976 was selected in the Cinema in Construction WIP in Toulouse, a pioneering instance for Latin American films in post-production stage, supporting the finishing stage of the selected films and providing international visibility for the festival circuit, especially Cannes Film Festival, for which it has often served as a prelude.

Here you can also find out about the Chilean attendance in the Festival (link in the last paragraph)

The opera prima by Manuela Martelli, produced by Chileans Omar Zuñiga (Cinestación) and Alejandra García (Wood Producciones) and co-produced by Movimiento Audiovisual (Argentina) is a 95-minute fiction drama that tells the story of Carmen, a Chilean woman who in 1976 went to the beach to supervise the remodeling of her house. When the priest of her family asks her to take care of a young man she keeps in secret, Carmen goes into unknown waters, far from the quiet life she knows.


The director and outstanding national actress has been part of more than 17 roles in renowned feature films including B-Happy (Best Actress, Havana Film Festival, 2003); Machuca (Directors’ Fortnight, Cannes Film Festival, 2004) and Il futuro (2013) Alicia Scherson’s film, with which she managed to win the Silver Columbus for Best Actress at the Ibero-American Film Festival of Huelva.

The director comments about her career as an actress “It was very important as part of a learning and experimentation process, to then jump in with 1976“.

What do you think was the impact of Apnea (2014) and Earth Tide (2015)? How do they affect the current development of 1976 and open the doors for filming your debut film?

Each experience coming from a very different place was teaching me something new. Apnea, for example, was my first short film. We filmed it when I was studying for a master’s degree in cinema in the US. It was two days of filming and it was a school in itself. We all did a little bit of everything, and we also had the luck of filming in 16mm -a very rare thing at this time. I am very fond of that short film because I feel it as very personal, and I think part of that-which was very instinctive at the time-was a guide to later writing 1976.

Her second short film, Earth tide (2015) was co-directed by Martelli and Amirah Tajdin, a collaboration that took place when Martelli was selected to participate in the ChileFactory the year before, an initiative of the Quinzaine des Réalisateurs de Cannes with Cinemachile, with the support of the Mincap.

ChileFactory was another sort of school for me. The program intended us to create a short film from scratch with a director from another country. It was like a blind date. I worked with Amirah Tajdin, a Kenyan-born director based in Dubai. The collaboration with her was very interesting, we worked in the film with a group of Chilote women who worked as seafood collectors, she said.

The acting career would be a third long school, which I appreciated during every minute of filming in 1976. That’s what Cinema has; you really learn it when filming. There are many things you can learn in school, but many others have more to do with human relationships and the rapid resolution of the infinite problems that always, always, arise, and that is probably what finally gives life to the film.

What inspired you to create this film, to choose the actors and the right location (Las Cruces) ? What do you want to convey with it?

The idea was based on a family story, but later it was detached from reality and incorporated elements of fiction. I was interested in getting into the domestic space during the time of the dictatorship in Chile, and observing, through the details of everyday life, how was perceived what happened in the public space.

We did the casting with Sebastián Videla, who had been a student and then my assistant at the Catholic University of Chile. It was a very long process because the film has many characters. When we started working with Sebastian, I already knew that Aline Kuppenheim was the protagonist. I had written the script thinking about it and also, years ago, we had made a teaser for the film where elements had also appeared that served to develop the character. So the rest of the casting was like building some sort of constellation around it. For Elias’ character we tested hundreds of young people between 20 and 30 years, and finally, after taking a long turn of more than a year, we called Nicolás Sepulveda who had presented himself on the first day of casting.

The location was also part of a creative process. In one of the very first drafts of the film, the story took place on the beach, then it went to Santiago, and at a certain point in the process, in one of the long conversations we had with Omar Zúñiga and Alejandra García, both producers of the film, We realized that if we wanted to look at history from the margins, then it made a lot of sense not to be in the city. I spent several days touring the coast between San Antonio and Algarrobo, and it made a lot of sense for the film to happen there. Not only was it consistent to the point of view, but the landscape also brought something very particular to the atmosphere of the film. So, after that trip, I rewrote the script with those locations already in my head.


The outstanding producer and director lived in New York for a few years and returned to Chile to start his production company, with which he has established himself as an important producer and director at national and international level, after winning the Audience Award and Grand Jury Prize at Outfest in Los Angeles with his first film, Los fuertes (2019) and also as being part of the executive production of Too late to die young (Best Director, Locarno Film Festival, 2018) the first film by the renowned director Dominga Sotomayor, Omar’s partner in Cinestación, their production company. 

Today the producer is again selected, with an opera prima at the Toulouse Film Festival, the prelude, in a way, to the Cannes Film Festival for Latin American auteur films.


What do you think or what do you expect the reaction of the industry to be with 1976 at the WIP in Toulouse? 

For us it is an honor to be able to return to Toulouse and present our new film in Cinema in Construction. I think the industry is going to find a challenging, authorial film, with a contemporary point of view and strongly anchored to a female experience. In addition, the film has a careful construction of time, which immediately transports us to a very dark moment in our history.

You already have Luxbox as the Sales Agent which is wonderful; what other aspirations do you have for the film in terms of international distribution?

We are also very happy to collaborate with Luxbox on this project. We would of course like the film to be able to find its space in key territories in Europe, such as France, Spain, the UK and Germany. We will also look for partners to distribute it in the North American market.

Alejandra García 

She has extensive experience in film, television and advertising. Her recent works such as Spider (2019) by Andrés Wood and The cow who sang a song into the future (2022) by Francisca Alegría have toured the world in outstanding international festivals, such as Sundance, Toronto and San Sebastián.


Currently the production company Wood Producciones has provided its extensive experience in Manuela Martelli’s opera prima, a promising film and with an important co-production.

How was it to co-produce with Movimiento Audiovisual (Argentina) and Cinestación? How do you feel about what each country contributed to the development of the film so that today it is part of the Work in progress of Toulouse, an instance that is seen as a great sign as it is the prelude to the Cannes Film Festival?

The co-production with Cinestación was a very good experience. We are two Chilean producers with different experiences that served as a complement for the production design.

The co-production with Argentina (Magma) was a great contribution to the period filming as it allowed us to film in locations of the past that are increasingly difficult to find in Chile. This resulted in a production value that contributes to the aesthetic language of the film.

What do you expect out of this WIP?

To find partners/ financing in order to finish the film in the best conditions possible. To receive feedback on the submitted cut, which adds value to the film in the face of upcoming festivals.


Chile has an outstanding participation in this edition of the prestigious French festival.

Without a doubt, the prestigious film festival that will include a retrospective of the outstanding Chilean documentary filmmaker Patricio Guzmán, winner of the Goya for best documentary film with The Cordillera of Dreams, has become a stage that promotes the Chilean audiovisual industry.

This includes 3 films in the official competition of fiction feature films among which stand out Immersion by Nicolás Postiglione ; The cow who sang a song into the future by Francisca Alegria and My brothers dream awake by Claudia Huaiquimilla.

While in the short film competition will be Beast by Hugo Covarrubias, the short film that will represent Chile in the Oscars, and Interference by Juan Carlos Soto.