The Summer Of Flying Fish screened in the Discovery Section at TIFF after premiering in the Directors Fortnight in Cannes this past May. Two films from Chile at TIFF out of 16 Latin American films gives it an extra luster.

Read the review for the film HERE

Chilean Director Marcela Said
Chilean Director Marcela Said

Also notable is the production company behind the film, Jirafa, which was founded in 2001 by one of Chile’s great minds of cinema, Bruno Betatti, whose book, Why Not, about the political policy for the film industry in Chile articulates today’s international film business issues of distribution and exhibition not just in Chile but throughout the world as it explores solutions to the problems most indie filmmakers face today. Betatti also is the Director of the Valdivia Film Festival, Chile’s top festival which I attended in 2005 and 2006 as a guest working with the then-young-now-mature generation of filmmakers whose films are now showing worldwide.

Director Marcela Said, however, was someone I never met. I had the feeling she was younger than the Sebastian Lelio/ Sebastian Silva/ Pablo Larrain/ Matias Bizes set, but on looking at her filmography, I see she is in fact in the same generation. However, she came to filmmaking from a different direction.

Filmmaking came out of Marcela’s love of politics. Born in Chile, she studied philosophy and moved to Paris to study at the Sorbonne. There she discovered that documentaries offered a way to discuss political issues, a favorite pastime of the French and a crucial one for Chileans.

Her first documentary, which she made in 1999 with the prestigious French production company Les Films d’ici was Valparaiso (the most beautiful city in Chile). In 2001, the 52 minute I Love Pinochet, began as an exploration of human rights. I Love Pinochet was a dialogue with Pinochet supporters, accompanied by images which lifted the film onto a metaphysical plane. The fact that it sold everywhere enabled her to make her next film in 2006, another 54 minute documentary, Opus Dei, which she co-directed with her French film editor husband, Jean de Certeau.

When I was in Chile, I was surprised at the visible marks left by Pinochet on society and by the continued fear of Opus Dei, the most influential and secretive organization of the Catholic Church, whose members many Chileans equate with Pinochet today. I heard people speak of this documentary, an unprecedented journey into the world of Christian fundamentalism in which the will to plant "the cross in the middle of the world" would remove all boundaries between religious and secular life.

'The Summer of Flying Fish'
'The Summer of Flying Fish'

Her next film, also codirected with her husband, The Young Butler (El Mocito in Spanish), focuses on the story of Jorgelino Vergara, a man who, from the age of 16, worked in a torture center during the Chilean military regime.

Making these films moved her from the spoken word to images, and as she began to appreciate cinematographic storytelling, and she moved into making her first fiction feature, The Summer of Flying Fish.

This film retains her concerns which are expressed by an atmosphere of fear and tension between the Mapuche people and a particularly incursive white landowner. The film was inspired by a trip she took to the south of Chile where she found a house whose inhabitants lived in an unspoken fear the Mapuche, the native people of the land who were setting fires on trains. The constant silent threat of violence grew as their acts became worse. The invisible threat of violence plays a part in this drama of a determined sixteen year old on a family vacation who is the darling daughter of a rich Chilean landowner who devotes his vacations to a single obsession: the extermina­tion of carp fish that invade his lake. As he resorts to ever more extreme methods over the course of the summer, Manena experiences her first deception in love and discovers a world that silently co-exists alongside her own: that of the Mapuche Indian workers who claim access to these lands… and who stand up to her father.

She co-wrote this script with Julio Rojas, another member of the pivotal generation who also wrote La vida de los peces (2010),Habitación en Roma (2010) and En la cama (2005). She shot it in 24 days in Chile and did sound and post in Paris. It was in the Berlin Co-Production Market where Jirafa found its French co-producer, Cinéma de facto. It screened in Toulouse as a work in progress and won the Ciné+ Special Prize at Cinéma en Construction at the end of March, which enabled the movie to finalize its post-production. ( Read more at Cineuropa). It was finished 2 days before its premiere in the Directors Fortnight in Cannes 2013 where it was very warmly received. Here at TIFF it was also very well received; “no one left the room” as Marcela put it.

Its international sales agent, Alpha Violet has entered it into many festivals, including Biarritz, Open Doors in Locarno.

It received funds initially from Corfo, FFA and CNCA of Chile. Fons Sud also supported it and it received finishing funds from the Region Ile de France and Arte’s Cofinova.

'The Summer of Flying Fish'
'The Summer of Flying Fish'

Marcela’s next film is a politically incorrect story about the friendship of a woman with a master teacher of dressage. She discovered this true story while working on El Mocito. She herself loves horses and took lessons from The Master until he went to prison for human rights violations during the time he served in Pinochet’s government. He becomes her mentor and she becomes his confidante as he promises to teach her to jump before he goes to prison. It all takes place in the Horse Club. There is much more in the emotional side of the story.

I asked Marcela how with a husband and a 9 year old son she finds time to write.

“I write three hours minimum every day. I also work on other projects.”

Is it hard to be a female director?

“Gender was never a problem. I was raised knowing I could do whatever I wanted. However, a woman always has to prove herself.”

“I must travel and shoot, like for 2 months in Paris and that takes some negotiating with my husband. It helps that I put my son in the films.”


Chile – 88min – In Spanish with English subtitles

Director: Marcela Said

Producers Jirafa and Cinema Defacto

Sales Contact: Alpha Violet – Virginie Devesa