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León and Cociña: the daring duo of Chilean cinema talks about their debut in Cannes

Although they do not act on screen – the announcer Marcelo Liapiz and the actor Jaime Vadell They lend them their voices –, Christopher Leon and Joaquín Cociña They exist as characters in The Hyperboreans. In the story of their second feature film they appear as two filmmakers who lost the non-digitized materials of a film. In the search for that work they have the help of the actress and psychologist Antonia Giesenwho tells the viewer that what will be seen next is an attempt to reconstruct that lost and untitled film.

That is the premise, but then the film transforms into a journey that they themselves describe as “sick” and “frantic”, where the origins of cinema intersect, a dystopian Chile – in which Jaime Guzmán is an artificial intelligence that officiates as prime minister – and a biopic about Miguel Serrano, the writer and former diplomat who became an important figure of neo-Nazism in the country.

In dialogue with Worshipthe directors admit that with their new film, their debut live-action (that is, with actors on stage), they tried to reflect their own inability to write a “normal” script. Experimental and daring, this work will take them for the first time to the Cannes Film Festivalwhere they will participate in the Filmmakers’ Fortnight, which will run from May 15 to 25.

After completing a five-year process with The wolf house (2018), their praised film inspired by Colonia Dignidad, which they animated in different museums, art galleries and cultural spaces in Chile and abroad, they chose to embark on a different kind of project. “We didn’t want to make a movie about stop motion“We wanted to make a fiction film, with actors, because we thought it would be something faster,” says León. The irony is that they ended up creating a film with layers that, according to their view, make it “much more confusing and tangled than The wolf house”.

Initially, the makers of The bones (2021) were interested in adapting a novel by Roberto Bolaño – although they assure that they did not begin negotiations to acquire the rights – and then it occurred to them to make a biographical film about Miguel Serrano, a personality that has interested them since his short film The Andes (2013) and which they define as “extremely extravagant and difficult to classify.” The first idea did not prosper, but the second concept was mixed with their participation in an event that they led in mid-2021, after an invitation extended to them by the Teatro a Mil Foundation.

“Together with Antonia Giesen, who was already part of the process, we did an online talk about a short film that we had lost. The structure of that talk became the skeleton of the script. The Hyperboreans”León details. His duo adds: “We developed that very quickly and arrived at the shoot with a very skeletal script, of pure structure, without many subtleties. I think that was good for the film, because it is like a kind of very brutal, fast and short journey – it lasts one hour and seven minutes – through many worlds.”

The filmmakers and visual artists, who co-wrote the film with Alejandra Moffat, They imposed on themselves to shoot the film in a single location (Matucana 100) and with only one actress (aside from some appearances by Francisco Visceral), in addition to allowing the public to enter. “We thought it was very beautiful that Antonia was the only human being made of flesh and blood,” says Cociña.

“My preparation basically consisted of dedicating myself boldly to a creative future. The boys have a language, a code in common, and I had to get on that boat at any cost and invite myself to what the vast majority of actresses and actors fear and love: the loss of control, the not knowing, the being lost and having to execute in the same way. And I say I am lost because the project itself is confusing, it wanders between reality and fiction, plus it was her first feature film directing actors, so there was a continuous exercise of trial and error,” says Giesen.

Did the script demand that she play herself? “I would say yes and no,” she responds. “I rescue my ways of approaching things, words, fear, curiosity, strangeness, love, but as a psychologist, for example, I am far from getting involved in things like those presented in the film” . And she adds: “I still have a hard time organizing myself within the story. That overwhelms me at times, but I think it’s tremendously cool that it happens.”

León and Cociña – together with producer Catalina Vergara – will take advantage of their trip to Cannes to give international visibility to The plaguea feature film that they hope to begin filming during the first half of 2025. It is an idea that emerges from the writing process of the film that they have just completed, but that has its own accent: it is a science fiction family drama that is composed of a greater number of characters and that does not investigate a political dimension.

The plague It’s about a woman who wants to have a love story independent of her family., but the presence of his father prevents him from doing so. Her desire to escape from her house takes her to parallel worlds or to different genres of cinema,” Cociña advances.

In that sense, share with The Hyperboreans his interest in multiverses and the nature of cinema. Although all that could change from one moment to the next. Antonia Giesen knows this well, who is also involved as the protagonist of that film. “I don’t know what about the original script that I read and what I didn’t read anymore, but that is precisely what has me excited and happy.”

The other project in development that they will take to the French competition is Hansel and Gretel, its adaptation of the story collected by the Brothers Grimm, in which its two protagonists will be men. With it they intend to return to the “most artisanal scale” of The wolf house, which they animated together almost entirely. “We want to return to this idea of ​​working at our own pace, on a very small scale,” they maintain.

Located at the antipodes of a cinema with a realistic matrix, the directors trust that the viewer will surrender to the journey they propose with The Hyperboreans (which has already confirmed distribution in local theaters). “After half an hour, I feel that the film confuses you a lot about where it started. It jumps from one world to another with such a frenetic pace, and there is so much information, that I hope it conveys to you that it swallowed you up and you don’t really know what each thing means,” says Cociña.

“We are definitely not interested in making historiographic films. Or we are not interested in that approach. Rather, We both think of movies as dreams of the history of Chile, as a very distorted reflection of the history of Chile,” explains León. Dreams or nightmares? “Nightmares,” they answer simultaneously.

Frenchman Julien Rejl, general delegate of the Filmmakers’ Fortnight since 2022, introduced the new film by the national duo as the “UFO” of this year’s selection. Both are delighted with that definition.

“That the premiere is in Cannes, which has a slightly more twist mainstream, it is good for the film and I think it is also good for the festival to accept those things,” says Cociña. León anticipates: “It’s probably going to be the strangest feature film of the entire festival”.

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