Cinema Chile


May 22, 2023

Rarely in the history of Cannes, Chile has reached a double selection in Un Certain Regard and this year it has happened. One of the great faces of this achievement is Felipe Gálvez, director who arrives with The Settlers, an ambitious first film that mixes fiction with historical events in Chilean Patagonia.

He returns to the festival after having his last short film (Raptor, 2018) in the Critics’ Week, an instance that he defines as a great opportunity that opened doors for him to participate in L’Atelier (Cannes, 2019) and Venice Production Bridge  (2021) when he was just beginning to produce his debut film.

The feature is produced by 8 countries Quijote Films (Chile), Rei Cine (Argentina), Quiddity Films (UK), Volos Films (Taiwan) in co-production with: Cine Sud Promotion (France), Snowglobe (Denmark), Film I Väst (Sweden) and Sutor Kolonko (Germany).

A choral film that brings together a large international cast including Mark Stanley (British, Game of Thrones), Sam Spruell (British, Doctor Who) and Alfredo Castro (Chilean, The club, Karnawal, Desde alla) as well as a promising debut by Chilean actors and the presence of the great costume designer Muriel Parra, who has worked on outstanding Chilean productions such as A Fantastic Woman (2017) and Neruda (2016) among others.


Prior to the Cannes premiere of The Settlers, we talked with Felipe Gálvez to learn about the artistic and technical details and the challenges of filming a debut film. Read all about his experience in three steps here



The Settlers has its own life now and is available to the audience, so that whoever sees it enjoys it and hopefully, mainly, gets excited. I think that anyone who is a lover of cinema will enjoy it
Felipe Gálvez




How did you experience the impact of Raptor (2018) in Cannes?

The Critics’ Week premiere was special. The short film had a strong topic and I was a little worried about how the audience could connect with the story. When the show ended, I noticed the standing ovation, and there I understood that something was happening, that the short connected with the audience and generated interest in the industry due to its visual proposal and the political point of view it took.

How did it affect The Settlers and open the doors for you to film this first film?

It allowed me to network and be known internationally. After the premiere came a great interest from laboratories and co-producers to learn more about The Settlers. I don’t think we could have made the movie without Raptor being part of the Critics’ Week.

What do you feel they brought to the project, and also to you as a director, the previous industry instances such as films in development in L’Atelier (Cannes, 2019) and Venice Production Bridge  (2021)?

In 2019, when we arrived at the L’Atelier in Cannes, we had just won Torino film lab a few months ago and Raptor’s impact right after a year of participating at festivals helped us to add co-producers and MK2 for international sales.

Including an international sales company as Mk2 in the middle of development helped a lot to strengthen confidence in this ambitious film. In Venice, however, we arrived with the film very close to having its complete financing, but we were not yet ready to shoot it, it was there that we found our last two partners who allowed us to shoot the original script of the film.


Sometimes during these long waiting and fundraising processes you end up giving up some things to make the film. We never gave up and waited 9 years, but we filmed  what we wanted and what we had written with Antonia Girardi.”



Step 2: Talents who bring fresh and new performances on stage


The Settlers is your first feature, but talents like Camilo Arancibia are also making their debut, How did you get to him and how does he contribute something different to the story?

Camilo Arancibia had previous experiences in film but here he faced one as the protagonist of the film, a role that was not easy to play, because with very little he had to do a lot.

We worked the casting in Chile with Roberto Mattus, we did auditions for months, when I saw Camilo for the first time, I saw the character. Camilo has a very special hypnotic face, I would say, you write a lot of things, but then during casting and filming things change. Camilo allowed me to discover new things about the character of Segundo, which until I met him, I had not understood.

 You can tell us about the performance and artistic work with The Settlers

I care a lot about the visuality in cinema, I am obsessed with the construction of images; if in Raptor we had experienced simulating the use of a cell phone, in The Settlers I wanted to make a reference to the first color experiments of photography.

You also incorporated Muriel Parra. How was the process of designing the costumes and correctly representing each character of that time period?

We invited Muriel Parra, to contribute from her enormous experience and career. Having her was a privilege for me, the film happens mostly outdoors so the costumes were one of the elements that had to be distinctive.

From the wardrobe we built our color palette, a palette that allowed us to dialogue with the first experiments of color photography of the late nineteenth century. We both wanted to be bold, to bet on something different, I think that her work was very particular and especially beautiful.


The Settlers is based on historical facts, but it is not a film that seeks to be a representation of reality, it is not a naturalistic film in the aesthetic, but rather would say the opposite, it is an artifice.”




What’s it like to make a first film?

It was a big challenge from start to finish. Making a period first film on an island at the end of the world, at the end of COVID, spoken in two languages, which is finally selected at the Cannes Film Festival, has kept me for nine years learning a lot about our craft.


And in terms of funding?

The Settlers‘ budget was high. Being a period film, shot in Tierra del Fuego, with horses and open air, it took us years to find the necessary financing to shoot this film. We applied to many funds and co-production meetings.


¿Cómo fue el proceso de coproducción con 8 países? 

It was an enriching process, which allowed me to know how funding from different countries works, and the possibility of adding talents from Argentina, England, France, Italy, Sweden and Taiwan to the team. That was definitely a constant challenge, but it was a very rewarding experience.

The fact that we have so many co-producers speaks of a certain epic and an absolute conviction of Quijote films and Giancarlo Nasi to tell this story, but also of the shortcomings that Chile has in financing films.


How do you define or what is the essential basis for improving Chilean productions that are exported internationally?

The funds that Chile has to make films are not enough and our industry is precarious, which is why we are relying on co-production to finance our stories and our films.

We need to find more sustainable ways and open up not only to public funds, but also to real donation laws, where there is a real incentive for companies to collaborate in the filming of films in Chilean territory through tax deduction. We need to open ourselves to new ways of financing our cinema. While we continue to make films that participate in important festivals, making films in Chile is increasingly complex, co-production is a big help, one way, but we cannot rely on them alone as an industry.


Don’t miss all the details of The Settlers and its world premiere at Cannes 2023 through our social networks @cinemachile!