Kino Lorber has announced the North American theatrical release of CHILE ’76, the stunning debut feature from Chilean actor and filmmaker Manuela Martelli. Set during the early days of Augusto Pinochet’s dictatorship, the film follows Carmen, a sheltered upper-middle-class woman who is inadvertently drawn into the world of the Chilean political opposition.
Aline Kuppenheim’s razor-sharp performance embodies the suffocating and often paralyzing environment of the Pinochet era, while the impeccable cinematography and daring musical score make this Hitchcockian noir a gripping suspense thriller.
After a celebrated run on the international festival circuit, including its World Premiere at Cannes Directors’ Fortnight, CHILE ’76 opens on May 5 at Film at Lincoln Center and the IFC Center in New York City, and on May 19 at the Laemmle Royal in Los Angeles, followed by a national rollout.
Martelli’s exploration of Pinochet’s dictatorship through the lens of an elegant and prosperous woman offers a “visually and tonally meticulous exploration of political resistance and conscience,” raves Manohla Dargis of The New York Times. The film bristles with suspense and slowly builds towards a tense and thrilling climax.
Martelli’s decision to tell the story of a conservative upper-middle-class woman’s experience during Chile’s dictatorship may seem like an odd choice at first. But upon further investigation, it becomes clear that the historical context of 1976 is key. This was a time of cruelty and darkness, where the horrors of dictatorship were felt by all. So instead of focusing solely on depression, it’s important to zoom out and examine the bigger picture. How do we continue to carry out our daily lives when atrocities are happening outside our homes? It’s a mechanism we all possess, but one that deserves further exploration. Martelli’s film is aimed at pushing us to learn from the past and ensure that history never repeats itself.
CHILE ’76 marks Martelli as a promising director with chops for genre, who stands out from the wave of female filmmakers that have come out of Chile in recent years. With the support of Dominga Sotomayor as producer, Maite Alberdi, and Francisca Alegría, Martelli’s debut feature offers what Marina Ashioti of Little White Lies calls a “subtle, bold, and thoroughly feminine political thriller” that will leave audiences on the edge of their seats.