TRAILER: In Chilean Drama ‘Rara,’ Two Sisters Are Unfazed by Their Divorced Mom’s New Girlfriend

As non-traditional households become an increasingly normal part of our social landscape, perhaps the time has come to treat them not as a hot-button civil rights issue, but simply as families. That is to say, with conflicts, misunderstandings, and resentments like any other, although with their own brand of problems and their owns types of joys.

With her debut film, Rara, Chilean director María José San Martín seems to have done just that. Using a screenplay penned by veteran helmer Alicia Scherson, San Martín weaves together the story of a family separated by divorce and complicated by the mother’s new lesbian relationship. It’s ripe territory for pamphleteering about an issue that has much left to resolve — especially in Latin America — but San Martín makes a choice perhaps more radical than any overtly political film by opting to shoot Rara like just another family drama.

As pre-adolescent sisters Sara and Catalina deal with their parent’s post-divorce issues, they must also confront the implications of their mother’s new sexual orientation along with their father’s attempts to retain sole custody on grounds of her non-traditional lifestyle. Unlike the adults in their life, Sara and Catalina seem to deal with these issues with relative serenity, unfazed by their mother’s new girlfriend and more concerned with exploring their own budding sexuality.

All of this takes place in a comfortable, upper-middle class context that dominates much of Chilean cinema and admittedly takes some of the bite out of a film that could easily cause uproar in the culturally conservative Chilean society. Nevertheless, first-time director San Martín shows great confidence behind the camera, with a polished, academic style, and superlative performances from her young actors.

Rara premiered earlier this year as part of the Berlin Film Festival’s Generation KPlus program.