Chilean Cinema 2014 #8: ‘Santas Putas’ (2010)

Holy Whores

(Chile 2010 57m) Youtube

Verónica Quense s Enzo Vásquez

March is the month of women, and that is a tradition that it’s important. The celebration or remembrance was one day of the month, but the amount of activities and cultural events that happen in march it just makes it expand on itself and turn it into one of the most important moments of the year when it comes to female produced content, either it be in form of plays, movies, books or other media, while the women in the country are treated in a more equal way. And what a better way to start this new month and year of the women with the return of our first women president. Now, not to get too political, I guess that the activity that gives the month some sort of closure is the celebration of the FemCine Festival, which showcases films from all over the world made by or about members of the female gender. Now, to continue with the films, Centro Arte Alameda released a movie made in 2010 about the concept of women, but with a more edgy and critical edge than the one made in FemCine, where they just accept anything made by women.

‘Santas Putas’ (2010) isn’t an easy movie to watch, as its amateurish aesthetics could turn off some purists of the cinematic form, but its roughness actually helps the message that tries to get across. It’s about a series of rape and killings of female students in a northern community of Chile, where poverty and small opportunities reign, hence when the first dissapeareances occurred and suddenly more and more child went missing, the police and even the government went out to say that these kids went to make a better life for themselves as prostitutes in other countries, and this was taken as the most normal answer to the problem that they had. It was not long enough until one of the girls managed to escape the brutal and mentally challenged rapist/killer while he was trying to kill her. But no one apologized to the families, no one said that they were wrong, and thus even today when you ask the kids and the adults of the town, they think that these girls had turned to prostitution either minutes before their killings (and thus, they had ‘bad luck’ in choosing their first costumer) or that the life of a whore is something probable and common, even though there aren’t real proofs about the existence of that life style among the female students there.

Under an hour it manages not only to recount an old story that needed to be told, but also it conjures some suspicions on the real culprits of the crimes, and even if it wasn’t already public knowledge the existence of the bodies or this person considered guilty was actually the only one responsible for the crimes, something that is doubted due to his mental challenges. The question is there, and it’s a strong and brave documentary for saying things as they are and not chickening out. The best thing about this? There’s no narrator, it’s a collective story, told through interviews to practically all the people involved, but with no real presentation or an editing finese touch, she just decides to cut between this and that interview with nothing in between to explain what’s going on, and how at times the things said contradict each other. The testimonies here are valuable and should be heard by everyone, it’s an important film, and maybe the best Chilean release to theaters so far in 2014.

8/10

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