Las niñas Quispe or solitary life at a high altitude
- Sebastián Sepúlveda’s debut film was warmly welcomed by audiences at the Cinelatino film festival, where it was given the Rail d’Oc award
In 1974, shortly after the military coup in Chile, the government of Augusto Pinochet approved a law, which brought grazing on the Andean mountaintops to an end. Following the piece of news, and seeing as some of the region’s inhabitants were having to leave their houses, Justa, Lucía and Luciana Quispe saw their nomadic way of life threatened. “They say that goats eat grass and policemen are going to come and kill them.” “What shall we do? Sell the goats? But if we sell them, we will die of pain!”
This is the starting point grounded in real life as well as in fiction for Las niñas Quispe [+see also:
film profile], the first feature length fiction film by Chilean Sebastián Sepúlveda presented just a few days ago at the 26th edition of the Cinélatino festival in Toulouse. The film, produced by Pablo Larraín’s company in co-production with France and Argentina, was selected at the 22nd edition of Cine en Construcción and participated and received prizes in festivals across the world, starting with Venice, where director of photography Inti Briones received an award.
Breath taking images filmed at 4,000 metres in altitude, often against the light, at dawn, in the same place where the Quispe family lives, is one of the strong points from the film. Another is the authenticity rendered by the main actresses. Two of these are professional actresses (Catalina Saavedra and Francisca Gavilan) and another is a niece of the sisters (Digna Quispe). The respectful photography is the product of Sepúlveda’s effort to tell a “dignified story,” the director explained at his film’s presentation, which “as Raúl Ruiz said, is part of the universe’s tragedy.”
The story’s unfolding happens with the same, slow rhythm as life on the Andean plateaus. The result is an unusual film, which demonstrates how little we know about what life on one of the loneliest places on earth can be like.
(Translated from Spanish)
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