Peruvian cinema is once again in the international spotlight. The Silence of the River, a short film directed by the Peruvian Francesca Canepa, is getting closer to winning a Golden Bear at the Berlin Film Festival, also known as the Berlinale, which will be held from February 20 to March 1 in the aforementioned European city.
The film, along with 59 other productions from around the world, will be screened in the Generation Kplus Competition, which gives awards for the best children's and youth film productions. It is worth mentioning that this will be the first world premiere of the film, which is the only Peruvian production selected this year.
The short film puts into context one of the most recurrent problems in the inner sphere of a family: lack of communication. This time the story is about a father and his youngest son, who also live isolated from society in the middle of a floating house. The scene takes place in the exotic and abundant landscapes of the Amazon, so the story is strongly linked to the local cosmovision.
"On a dreamlike journey through the jungle, the boy will discover the truth about his father and himself. It is a story about family, loneliness and the search for identity", says Canepa.
This is not the first time that the director has used national settings as the main focus of her productions. She also did this with Aya, a short film she directed in 2016. "For me, the Peruvian landscapes are the co-stars in my stories. I am a very visual person and some of my stories are hatched after seeing a place. The space somehow determines the story, the tone and who will inhabit it. I like space to not only serve as a backdrop but also as a living, expressive entity that conveys the characters' emotions", she says.
"The landscape is rhetorical and adds meaning to the scene: sometimes it beautifies, sometimes it contrasts, etc. In the case of The Silence of the River, the landscape of the Peruvian Amazon allowed us to play with the universe of magical realism that we wanted to portray and to express the local cosmovision", she adds.
Growth of national films
Canepa predicts a healthy panorama for local films, as they are gradually positioning themselves before the eyes of foreign critics. "I think Peruvian cinema is going through a good patch. More and more Peruvian films are reaching the most important festivals in the world and we are gradually making our culture and landscapes known. The Ministry of Culture is supporting cinema quite a bit and there is increasing expenditure to provide economic stimuli for audiovisual productions", she says.
She also stressed the importance of highlighting Peru's culture and landscapes in productions with a national seal, since this is a good opportunity to disseminate its wealth before the eyes of the world. "Our country has a very rich culture and a very wide variety of landscapes. Each region is like a microcosm that concentrates completely different realities with its own problems that, in my opinion, deserve to be made known to the world", she says.
The Silence of the River has also been selected in the Iberoamerican Short Film Section of the International Film Festival in Guadalajara Mexico (FICG 35) 2020 and in the Rencontres Latin-American Film Festival in Toulouse, France.
Did you know?
- Another Peruvian production was acclaimed at these awards In 2009: this was The Milk of Sorrow (La teta asustada), a film by director Claudia Llosa, which catapulted actress Magaly Solier (its main character) to fame, and won nothing more and nothing less than a Golden Bear in the Best Film category.
- The Peruvian film Retablo, directed by Álvaro Delgado-Aparicio, received awards during the 2019 Berlinale. It received a special mention from the youth jury at the Generation14plus awards and an award for Best First Film at the Teddy Awards.
Sources: Somos/ Vimeo/ La Vanguardia/ Linkedin/ El País/ Berlinale