Three award-winning feature films and half a dozen shorts position Chilean director Dominga Sotomayor Castillo as one of the most consistently refreshing creators in Latin American cinema today.
If her two first full-length efforts (De jueves a domingo and Mar) presented incisive takes on familial conflicts set around vacations, her latest, Tarde para morir joven (Too Late to Die Young) furthers that thesis, observing a teenage girl growing up in the 90s as part of a community of families living off the grid in a remote location.
Speaking to Remezcla at AFI Fest earlier this year, Sotomayor described the movie as a story about the “nostalgia of youth.” The alluring coming-of-ager earned her the Best Direction Award from the Locarno Film Festival earlier this year, and includes a romantic relationship between the young female protagonist and an older male. Said plot point has prompted inquiries in the context of the #MeToo movement, even if that wasn’t her intention.
“I wasn’t thinking about #MeToo,” she said. “I wrote it four years ago thinking about these memories of being in love. It was more about connecting with the emotions than trying to portray something politically incorrect.”
While conscious of the disadvantages women directors encounter in their professional career everywhere, for Sotomayor the fight to be heard is not only about gender, but rather about exhibition in her home country. “It’s a big challenge to get the films that we are making to connect with an audience. In the past we had three films per year [in Chile], and now it’s around forty-five a year,” she explained. “But the audience is not changing. It’s actually decreasing.”
Great productions are being made in Chile, from festival winners like her newest work to genre offers, but, according to the director, there are no art-house cinemas, so they don’t have places to show these films. “We don’t have a connection with the Chilean audience. There is a complicated gap”
Partnering with two friends, Sotomayor plans to create a facility called “Center of Cinema and Creation.” The film center will be located in downtown Santiago and will also have office space available for production companies, a place to impart workshops, and even a café. Above all, this new cinema will ensure that homegrown talents can showcase the fruit of their labor for the general public to enjoy.
“We also have ideas to ensure we play equal quantities of films directed by women and films directed by men, but also to play Chilean films that have no space in Chile. Or to have amazing films from abroad that still haven’t arrived in Chile.” A warrior in the distribution battlefield, Sotomayor is advocating to develop a film culture, so that once all the impediments to make a movie are defeated, the final product can be seen.
Too Late to Die Young will be released theatrically in the US by KimStim in 2019.