Coinciding with its world premiere at the Venice Film Festival, Warsaw-based New Europe Film Sales has provided Variety with an exclusive peek at the trailer for Chilean writer-director Fernando Guzzoni’s (“Jesus”) thriller, “Blanquita.”
Based on the young witness at the center of the Spinak case, a scandal involving Chilean pedophilia and prostitution networks that rocked the country, the film grapples with morality and the struggle towards justice for those without means.
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In the film, Blanca (Laura López) leads investigators, and the public, on a baffling journey as she plants herself at the center of a trial against powerful politicians.
“I think that what seduced me about the case is how a girl who was an outsider kept the entire Chilean community on edge for almost a year,” relayed Guzzoni.
“Her appearance in the case seemed very performative to me and how she, to some extent, built a character that interpreted a story that belonged to someone else but that was also related to her own pain. I really like the idea that she’s a heroine with double standards, who tells a half-truth to achieve justice and dignity in the face of a system that discriminates against her, excludes her and where institutions and power operate with a class bias. It seems to me that she represents a fight between David and Goliath, that her figure is not just a victim or a sanctified woman, but rather a complex human being.”
As the trailer begins we see Father Mañuel (Alejandro Goic) looking on through a glass window as professionals evaluate an abused adolescent he looks after, Carlos (Ariel Grandón), concluding he’s too drug-addled to testify on his behalf in any trial.
Manuel’s voice overlaps the scene as he confronts the doctors, relaying the heinous acts of repeated rape that the boys in his care have endured at the hands of an elite ring of perpetrators. He grows increasingly enraged as he’s told there won’t be enough evidence to bring a case against the men.
“I think there was a structural injustice. The fact that the true victims have been left out of the case because they didn’t respond to groups of influence or power, speaks of how societies like the Chilean one have built first and second tier subjects, where only a few can truly access reparative justice, or the rule of law,” stated Guzzoni.
He added: “In Chile there was a very controversial investigation that revealed that thousands of children in juvenile centers that depended on the state died or were abused and to date there’s not been a single political leader implicated. I believe that in this case, as in many others, structural violence continues to be perpetuated where justice operates with a class or gender bias.”
The teaser continues as the camera cuts to a scene of our protagonist, Blanca, as she comforts Carlos, ensuring him she’ll protect him. Resolute in her decision, she morphs from confidante to co-defendant, a more suitable victim that will stand trial for the abuses suffered by others.
Failing to fold, tensions rise as the accused begin to dial in on the duo. Father Mañuel and Blanca’s attempts back them further into a tight corner, placing their lives and liberties on the line, support for them slowly diminishing.
Once an unsung hero, the trailer ends as Blanca carries her baby up courtroom stairs, uncertain of her fate. A brief flashback to a conversation with Father Mañuel serves as an end-cap, a scene in which he insists he’ll stand by her side while she questions her integrity before diving headfirst into the scandal.
A take on the gray area that lies between right and wrong, the gravity of coming to terms with failed justice, the film leaves these social quandaries aptly hanging in the balance.
“I believe that the case was very important, because it was one of the first times that there was a challenge to power. Seeing elites being interrogated by people without power was an event without precedents in Chile. Logically I think that in societies like Chile’s, the asymmetry of justice and structural violence is very deep and something that’ll take many years to dismantle,” concluded Guzzoni.
The feature is co-produced by Giancarlo Nasi at Chile’s Quijote Films (“El Hombre Del Futuro”), Pablo Zimbrón at Mexico’s Varios Lobos (“Táu”), Donato Rotunno at Luxembourg’s Tarantula (“Totem”), Pascal Guerrin, Yves Darondeau, and Emmanuel Priou at Bonne Pioche Cinema (“Above Water”) and Beata Rzeźniczek at Poland’s Madants (“Silent Twins”), with Jan Naszewski of New Europe Film Sales (“Sweat”) heading international sales.
“Blanquita” is up for best film in the festival’s Horizons Strand alongside Juan Diego Botto’s parallel tales of life and solidarity on the economic fringe, “On the Fringe,” and Jean-Paul Salome’s Isabelle Hubert-fronted thriller “La Syndicaliste.”
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