Focus 2019 – Camila José Donoso
Camila José Donoso’s films present a cinema in transformation. Over the course of three features and several short films, the Chilean director (born in 1988) has built a corpus of aesthetic experimentation and potent invention that deals directly with urgent themes. Her films achieve transformation through self-reinvention, which frequently occurs even in the bodies of the people filmed. Camila’s female protagonists overcome an array of barriers throughout their daily lives, in aging bodies stamped by society as deviant, in films that play on the borders between documentary and fiction. These are works traversing lines tied to historically instituted genders and genres, and audiences will have the chance to discover them during the filmmaker’s first Brazilian retrospective within the Focus section of the 8th edition of the Olhar de Cinema – Curitiba International Film Festival.
Camila will attend the festival to participate in debates following the screenings of some of her films, and also to give a free Masterclass in which she will screen short works and discuss her creative processes. The Masterclass is connected to Camila’s own work as a teacher and as one of the head organizers of the experimental filmmaking school Transfrontera, located in Arica, Chile. And, in addition to Camila’s talks and three features, the Focus’s lineup includes dialogues between her films and films made by other directors with whom she has worked and whose works inspire her.
Camila’s films have passed in important festivals around the world including Rotterdam, BAFICI, Berlin, FICValdivia, and Art of the Real. In her first feature, Naomi Campbel (2013, co-directed with Nicolás Videla), the viewer closely follows Yermén, a Santiago-based trans woman in search of funds that can turn viable a long-dreamed-of sex change operation. Her second feature, Casa Roshell (2017), was developed during a period of residency in Mexico City and takes place inside a nightclub run by one Roshell Terranova – a space of fantasies where all men who enter may transform into what they wish. Her most recent feature, Nona. If They Soak Me, I’ll Burn Them (2019) – whose Brazilian premiere will take place in Curitiba – deals with issues of self-exile, love, and vengeance through the force of a sexagenarian main character inspired by the filmmaker’s grandmother.
“We’re proud to screen work by a filmmaker who has developed her films along the shifting lines between documentary and fiction”, says Olhar de Cinema’s director, Antônio Junior. “The films reveal an eternally ongoing search for intimacy with their characters, and at the same time, they explore many different ways of uniting cinematic form and content in the interest of strengthening both. From her early works and onwards, Camila has given place and voice to bodies and kinds of consciousness that hold little attention within traditional filmic narratives. She freely risks along unconventional paths, without ever losing sight or feeling for a sensitive engagement with her audiences.”
A trait passing indelibly throughout Camila’s work is that of human liberty, which includes the freedom for documentary registers to commingle with scenes fictionalized in close collaboration with the people in front of the camera. Her films are bound together by familial and communal ties of affection, closely bound to different forms of activism (such as feminism and LGBTQ), and grounded in collective memories of Chilean society’s recent decades. Together with their formal propositions, these unique “transfictions” (a term that the director herself likes to use) offer a refined and conscious process of binding life and film. They are works in continuous process of experimentation with textures, gauges, soundscapes, and characters residing both within and beyond the frame.
The Focus’s films will screen on DCP. Titles confirmed for the section include:
Camino Gris (dir. Camila José Donoso, Chile, 2007, 8min)
Nona (dir. Camila José Donoso, Chile, 2014, 10min)
Naomi Campbel (dir. Camila José Donoso e Nicolás Videla, Chile, 2013, 82min)
Casa Roshell (dir. Camila José Donoso, Mexico/Chile, 2017, 71min)
Nona. Se mi mojan, yo los quemo (dir. Camila José Donoso, Chile/Brazil/France/South Korea, 2019, 86min)
Sueños de hielo (dir. Ignacio Agüero, Chile, 1993, 55min)
Ninouche (dir. Valérie Massadian, France, 2011, 24min)
T.R.A.P (dir. Manque La Banca, Argentina, 2018, 16min)