Cinema Chile

Interview // Francisca Alegría at Sundance 2022: “My aspiration is that the film will open insightful and perceptive dialogues, spaces and sensations”

January 21, 2022

Chilean director Francisca Alegría returns to the Sundance Film Festival!

After having been part of the 2017 edition with her short film And the whole sky fit in the dead cow’s eye, which won the Short Film Jury Prize, this year the director returns to the festival with her first feature film The cow who sang a song into the future, selected in the World Cinema Dramatic Competition.

“It was an enriching experience in so many ways. I keep learning from it. I had a lot of freedom and the opportunity to experiment with film language, something I consider a great gift from my cast and crew, for their amazing talent, dedication and trust in me, “says Alegría.

Produced by Alejandra García from Wood Producciones (Chile) along with Cinéma Defacto (France) and Match Factory (Germany), the film tells the story of Cecilia who, immersed in a family drama after traveling with her children to her father’s farm, must face the pain of her mother’s suicide and the mysterious circumstances surrounding her family’s lands.

The cast of the film is one of the features that stand out most internationally, since it’s shaped by three consolidated Chilean actors Alfredo Castro, Leonor Varela, Enzo Ferrada and the Argentine Mia Maestro (The Twilight Saga: Breaking Dawn) who will give life to the characters and the story set in the city of Valdivia.

-How do you think the film dialogues with audiences both from Latin America and the rest of the world?

I think this film will engage in a non-rational way with audiences. My aspiration is that “The Cow (…)” will open up insightful and perceptive dialogues, spaces and sensations that the audience will not seek to explain verbally. I hope that the audience, regardless of their nationality and culture, will be able to connect from a visceral place.

Francisca tells that her previous short film, And the whole Sky fit in the Dead Cow’s Eye, has opened up many spaces, assuring that “it paved the way for this feature film and those that are coming. I owe a lot to that short film and to all who worked on it and believed in me at the time”.

 –A few months ago the American magazine Variety highlighted the actors who will give life to the characters. How was this work of finding the right cast, so powerful and international?

-Finding the two leading roles, Leonor Varela and Mia Maestro was something that happened naturally. We met at a Sundance Lab in 2017 and that’s when I knew that they were already playing the characters. There was not much search, they came by themselves, revealing to me all their strength as women and artists, which transcends into the screen.

As for the rest of this group of powerful actors, I sent the script to Alfredo Castro a year later, he loved the project and immediately joined in. With Marcial Tagle I had worked on my first short film while studying at the University in Chile, and with Tato Dubó, he was in “And the whole sky (…)” so with both it felt like a very nice reunion.  As for the three other characters, we did castings and found the talents of Enzo Ferrada, Laura del Río and Maria Velázquez.

-Does the international career of the cast influence your decision?

-I think it helps that the actresses and actors of your film are recognized internationally, but my personal opinion is that the artistic decision should not come from there, but it must come from the question: “who will embody this character in a more original and authentic way?”

For this year the director has among her projects The house of the spirits, adaptation of the great novel by Isabel Allende, which is co-writing with Fernanda Urrejola, and it will be produced by FilmNation, with the participation of Eva Longoria.

Along with this great project there is also a feature film in development that will be filmed in the US and that she hopes to make between 2022 and 2023, of which still, according to Alegría, cannot reveal more details.