A Chilean Top Four

Miljenko Skoknic January 12, 2007

“I’m ashamed to say it, but my Chilean film list is full of holes,” says Miljenko Skoknic, the new intern at SF360.org. Skoknic, an MFA student in cinema at San Francisco State University, hails from Chile, writes for La Fuga, blogs at Millions of Images (as well as Dr. Mabuse’s Kaleido-Scope), and apologizes that he didn’t have a chance to see “La Luna en el Espejo,” “Imagen Latente,“ “Ya no Basta Con Rezar,” “Morir un Poco,” “Caliche Sangriento,” or “Tres Tristes Tigres“ before he was asked for this list of his favorite Chilean films. “It’s not an objective list,” Skoknic warns, “in fact, it’s as biased as possible,” in that it nurtures, he says, his individual ideas about Chile’s unique film language, and his apprehension of what Chilean cinema has been. He’d really like to see the new works of the Chilean filmmakers Matias Bize, Jose Luis Torres Leiva, Sebastian Campos and Alicia Scherson, whose “Play” he saw at last year’s SF International Film Festival). “It’s sad for me to realize that most of the films I appreciate are from the ’70s, and deal mainly with issues caused by the military dictatorship (1973-1990), but it’s also true that many great works come from times of struggle.”

Miljenko Skoknic’s Top Four Chilean Films

1. “Palomita Blanca” (Raúl Ruiz, 1973)

I’ve only seen a handful out of Ruiz’s 100+ films, but this one is one of my favorites: slow, awkward and filled with anecdotes on Chilean lifestyles in the early ’70s. It’s also the one of the best attempts to capture the elusive natural Chilean speech.

2. “Valparaiso Mi Amor” (Aldo Francia, 1969)

Saw this a long time ago, but it remains in my memory our most heartfelt version of neorrealism.

3. “La Batalla de Chile” (Patricio Guzman, 1975)

A black-and-white, kaleidoscopic recollection of life-segments, interviews, political campaigns, and conspiracies of every level, documenting with wide-eyed precision the calm before the storm that was the 1973 military coup.

4. “Fernando Ha Vuelto” (Silvio Caiozzi, 1998)

Probably one of the most depleting documentaries I’ve seen; it’s about a young man named Fernando, killed by the military in Chile after the 1973 coup. The documentary gradually reconstructs his demise, as forensic scientists reconstruct his remains, as Fernando’s mother awaits the results.