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A Porous Cinema: Cosmopolitanism and Cinephilia in Chilean Art Film (2005-2015)


Between 2005 and 2015, a distinctly cosmopolitan form of art cinema flourished in Chile. Alberto Fuguet, Pablo Larraín, Alicia Scherson, and Sebastián Silva, who released their first feature-length films between 2005 and 2007, are markedly cosmopolitan filmmakers who exemplify this strain of cinema. Four films by these filmmakers—Fuguet’s Se arrienda (2005), Larraín’s Tony Manero (2008), Scherson’s Il Futuro (2013), and Silva’s Nasty Baby (2015)—are emblematic of the cosmopolitan and porous qualities of early-21st-century Chilean art cinema. The defining features of these four films are the cosmopolitan profiles of their filmmakers; their creators’ use of transnational strategies of production, distribution, and exhibition; their circulation at film festivals; their affiliation with the genre of art cinema; and their depiction of cinephilia and filmmaking as quintessentially cosmopolitan practices.

The release of these Chilean productions and co-productions coincides with the beginning of the post-Transition to Democracy period as well as the expansion and maturation of the country’s film industry. From 2005 through 2015, the number of new Chilean productions and co-productions released in local theaters increased significantly over the preceding Transition to Democracy period (1988-2005). Many of these films were exhibited at some of the world’s most prestigious film festivals, including Berlin, Cannes, and Venice. This decade-long series of success at film festivals culminated at the 2015 Berlin International Film Festival, where Larraín’s El club and Silva’s Nasty Baby won the Silver Bear Grand Jury Prize and Teddy Award, respectively. Notwithstanding its accumulation of awards and prestige at film festivals, contemporary Chilean art cinema has received limited attention from scholars, especially outside of Chile. This dissertation contributes to the conversation about Chile’s art cinema and film industry in the early-21st century.

This dissertation is divided into two parts. In the first two chapters, I focus on the structural factors shaping the development of this cinema between 2005 and 2015. In the first chapter, I analyze Chile’s film industry with a focus on production output, audiences, legislation, and organizations involved in the production, distribution, and exhibition of Chilean cinema. In the second chapter, I examine film festivals’ multifaceted roles as exhibitors, curators, producers, and distributors of Chilean art film. The second half of the dissertation, chapters three through six, offers close analyses of Se arrienda, Tony Manero, Il Futuro, and Nasty Baby and their representation of cosmopolitanism through the interrelated practices of cinephilia and filmmaking.

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