Chilean Cinema 2013 #24: Trapananda: en la Patagonia Occidental (2012)

(Chile 2012 92m) Cineteca Nacional

p Rodrigo Aliaga, Manuel Oyarzo d Ignacio Aliaga w/ed Rodrigo Aliaga c Nelson Cortés s Segundo Oria

One of the most important tasks of having an alternate circuit of cinemas in a city, or even a country, is that it gives screens to movies that wouldn’t have them in big compounds or big box office returns, in Chile this is more true than ever because they are under a special law that allows them to receive extra money from the government, in the broadest and most offensive way possible, one can say that if no one sees the movie, the film isn’t lost and not necesarily has to leave the screen in which it’s playing, thanks to that state grant. But recently that has changed, certain chilean films have managed to make their way into big theaters, and the Miradoc initiative (of those I’ve reviewed quite a few in this survey of the Chilean Cinema that I see in a year) manages to put Chilean documentaries in over 9 screen all across the country.

So, what is actually left for other places like Cine Arte Alameda, Cine Arte Normandie and specially the Cineteca Nacional (this last one in particular is one of the screens that Miradoc uses to put their films on)? They usually don’t test the waters at all, they just meander around with what they know it’s good for the people who attend these kind of places, they just end up running with the latest (and more popular) Chilean films weeks and even months after their initial run, and when they have a new film of their own, it’s usually so old (over 6 years old in some cases) that those who wanted to see it, may find it online before they go out to their local cinema and waste a good amount of money to see them on a big screen, that in the case of these particular screens, isn’t that great either. That’s when films like this, that would have no other way of showing up, get a screen time in these cinemas, this one in particular is still playing at the Cineteca Nacional, and it’s such a shame that the film is so bad.

The documentary tries to be a road movie that follows a group of musicians who play a very local kind of music in what is called the Chilean Patagonia, a place that by the Spaniard conquistadors was called the Trapananda, the Paradise of sorts, where the Holy Grail could be found, and in a way Chile is the path that leads to that holy place… and that little fact that I’ve told you is much more interesting taht what we end up seeing in the over 90 minutes of film. A series of travels that are never truly explained are put together one after the other with certain colorful characters that sometimes appear and make the whole thing a bit more bearable, but it isn’t worth it in the end. The film at times is crude, and the image quality isn’t commendable at all, it’s as if the whole thing was shot with a very low res camera, and this was done in 2010-11 when better cameras were available. A shame that this couldn’t be better, a portrait of the people that lived and live in the Patagonia right now would be a great film to be made, a shame that this is what we have so far.



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