'Late to die young', experiences of a teenage transition after the Pinochet dictatorship | Culture

'Late to die young', experiences of a teenage transition after the Pinochet dictatorship | Culture

The democracy returns to Chile the summer of 1990. In an isolated community, Sofia of 16 years, Lucas, of the same age, and Clara, of 10, face their first loves and fears, as they prepare for the New Year's party. They may live far from the dangers of the city, but not from the dangers of nature. With this synopsis we present Late to die young, a film about the end of childhood and new beginnings after the dictatorship of General Augusto Pinochet, which ended at the beginning of that year. The third feature by Chilean director Dominga Sotomayor, "more personal than autobiographical", competes in the Fiction Contest of the International Film Festival of New Latin American Cinema in Havana.

The journey of the film has been successful in the majority of the cinematographic citations that it has covered. Last August, Sotomayor became the first woman to win the Golden Leopard for the best address at the 71st edition of the Locarno Film Festival, in Switzerland. The filmmaker's task behind the scenes was once again recognized in the Festival of Gijón, Spain, last November, where he also won the prize for best cinematography, awarded to Inti Briones.

Sotomayor says that when he was five years old he came to this community similar to the one he portrays in the film. For his parents and a group of his friends was a kind of self-exile, he explains, to create a lifestyle they wanted to have, away from that "gray post-dictatorship Santiago, where there was no room for freedom." "It was a childhood that marked me a lot, a very special space for me, where I was greatly influenced by these people with whom I grew up. I think the film starts a bit of the place, like the desire to do something with that site and the nostalgia to see how it had changed so much and could not be the same again, "he tells this newspaper Sotomayor via telephone from Havana.

The film, according to Sotomayor, also works as a metaphor through adolescence to tell the situation of his country when the dictatorship ended. Through the life of these young people and this community, the director tries to reflect a country that had lost its illusions very early. For that reason he decided to make a film about teenagers and a "teenage country", hurt for years for the autocracy of Pinochet and that I was trying to start over. "It's a movie about growing up in times of violent change. Also about transitions and early loss of illusions, that was the starting point ", adds the director.

Natural and organic creation

Sotomayor wanted to make a choral film, that when talking about a character, one also talks about the other and a collective state is accumulated. The character of Clara and Lucas are also part of the soul of the film, however, the one that monopolizes the narrative is Sofia. The actor Demian Hernandez embodies this young woman. The film, the interpreter admits, was a great challenge when presenting it for the world, for the extensive filming and for embodying this character in his debut on the big screen. He also explains that it was difficult to face fear, the unknown, the new, the one they will say and how they will react with their identity. One of his fears was the self-imposed that was put at the time of interpreting Sofia.

"To see how this film has been part of a beautiful process for me, to face my identity and my adulthood in the most appropriate way with myself. Late to die young It's a kind of funeral, a farewell to the girl I was and incarnated at some point. A girl who unknowingly made wise decisions and took me to the place I am now. I see the film and I feel happy, for all that I have been able to contribute to this project and discover in me, "says the actor in an interview.

Hernandez says he played the character without knowing the script, so the creation of Sofia and the work with Sotomayor was organic. Before filming they did a lot of improvisation work with the whole cast and during the recording, the coaches of action helped them to channel this work. He says that the director's instructions were quite simple and that she gave him the confidence to believe in his abilities. "I have grown a little, and I have been able to mean and learn the emotions experienced, especially melancholy, emotion that I enjoy a lot. When I thought of myself as a teenager, I wanted to give all this to the character. The communion between Sofia and me is saudade [nostalgia], to long for something distant, to love melancholy, "adds the actor.

An element that works as a complement to the narrative and the conception of the whole film, are the songs that accompany the characters and their interactions. The director thought of a "very musical" film. He wrote the script and built the characters wondering what genres and artists they would like to hear. And how these tastes build them as people. The soundtrack is eclectic: it draws on artists like Michael Jackson, The Prisoners, Vilma Palma and Vampires, even protest music.

Hernández feels that music gives a language to be able to understand and express things that escape from words. She sees Sofia as a silent being and says that music is for her an extension, a way of representing herself without saying a word. "I like to play a little with popular music and how it talks about the characters, who often do not express their emotions. However, the music they are listening to betrays them, "says Sotomayor.


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