Songs of Repression (2020)

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A documentary about Colonia Dignidad, the German fundamentalist evangelical cult based in a Chilean rural compound and led by subsequently convicted paedophile Paul Schäfer, seems to promise shock and horror at the uncovering of the many atrocities that happened there in the 60s and 70s. Directors Marianne Hougen-Moraga and Estephan Wagner manage instead to craft a contemplative and non-didactic meditation on human nature, trauma and denial.

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Magic Magic (2013)


This is the Sebastian Silva film that I had originally booked and then got the recommendation to see The Maid. I really liked that one and I suspected that this wouldn’t be as good. It wasn’t, but he has won me over as a director and I’m now intrigued to see more of his films.

Alicia is a California girl joining her cousin Sarah for a break in Chile. With some Chilean and American friends they head south to a remote coastal location where they are surrounded by the mess and noise of nature. It becomes clear that Alicia is suffering from some kind of breakdown and the isolation, geographically and emotionally from those around her, means she quickly spirals into psychosis. Continue reading

The Club (2015)


The lights went up at the end of this black Chilean drama and Alex said, “That’s my film of the festival, I loved it!” and I said, “That was crap. What on earth was that film about?” It just shows you, doesn’t it? No, not that Alex has bad taste in films (although it is possible…) but that our film experiences are as much about ourselves as the film. Okay. so maybe I didn’t think it was crap, but I didn’t get what it was trying to say. It was a bleak film, and although there were small moments of warmth and humanity, the topic perhaps ensures that these were overwhelmed by darkness. Continue reading

The Maid (La Nana) (2009)


Thank you Jenny. I sat next to Jenny on my first day and we chatted. She is a regular MIFF-goer and one year stepped in to manage the festival, so she knows her films. We compared our schedules and she saw that I was seeing Magic Magic by Chilean director Sebastián Silva, who is having a retrospective at MIFF this year. Although she quite liked that film, she recommended two others of his – The Maid and Old Cats. So I booked The Maid and loved it. Continue reading