It’s been eight years since Pablo Larraín brought new Chilean cinema crashing into the public consciousness with his dark second feature Tony Manero. Since then the Santiago native’s picked up big wins at fancy festivals, a couple of Oscar and Golden Globe noms, and to boot he’s been leading a pack of camera-slinging compatriotas that includes festival favorites like Sebastián Silva and Sebastián Lelio. But now, just as Larraín prepares to make the jump to the Hollywood bigtime, the 2016 Berlin Film Festival is ushering in a new generation of Chilean auteurs riding on the waves already created by their predecessors.
Roberto Doveris is a first-time director who’s been moving around the Chilean film scene for years, working with big name helmers like Alicia Scherson and shooting dozens of music videos under his Niña Niño Films imprint. After making a handful of shorts, his debut feature Las Plantas is playing as part of the Generation 14plus sidebar at the Berlinale after drawing positive attention at BAFICI’s Buenos Aires Lab. The feature tells the idiosyncratic tale of an adolescent girl left to care for her invalid older brother as she explores her own sexuality through online meetups. Along the way she starts reading a bizarre comic book about how plant spirits possess human beings during the full moon, whose improbable plot slowly begins to seep into her real life experience. Roberto Doveris is a first-time director who’s been moving around the Chilean film scene for years, working with big name helmers like Alicia Scherson and shooting dozens of music videos under his Niña Niño Films imprint.
The film’s trailer gives a sense of the menacing thriller atmosphere created by Doveris, where some horrible outcome seems to be lurking just around the corner. Dimly-lit, low contrast interiors get the point across, helped along by an expressionistic soundtrack filled with sounds of crashing thunder, ambient swirls, and a solo guitar lick that sounds like something out of Unsolved Mysteries. All in all, Las Plantas seems nothing like your stereotypical art house debut, with Doveris showing he is capable of bringing a new vision to Chile’s already booming cinematic production.