There are a few Chilean animation films. Those ones stand out because of the film’ content and not because of the external factors as it is the participation of a celebrity (as Coco Legrand in Cesante) or a story behind (as Ogú y Mampato, Condorito) are fewer. It The Oscar winner film Historia de un oso, stands out, although it is a short film. So, La Casa Lobo by León and Cociña enters the cinema, it is an original script movie and an animation technique that hasn’t been used so much in Chilean films: the stop motion. The film is like a nightmare, but at the end we want more. We want to take a look at the book at the book stores, to know the reasons behind its awarding with the Caligari Filmprei in Berlinale and the awards won in the Festival Internacional de Cine de Valdivia. There are many myths behind the film that an exhibition was performed at the GAM and had to be extended, inside the exhibition people could walk inside the film’s house and see the puppets of León and Cociña animating the film. The same exhibition arrived at Art Basel in Miami. In an interview with Arte Al Límite, the Chilean animators talk about the success of La Casa Lobo.
We talked with Cecilia Toro, animator of the Plastivida studio; Leo Beltrán, part of the Niñoviejo team; and with José Navarro, scriptwriter and president of the Animachi, the Chilean Animation Association; who helped us understand the reasons for the success of Leon and Cociña’s feature film, which also won better animation at the Monterrey Film Festival, Mexico and best film at the Latin American Film Festival in Quito, Ecuador.
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What do you think about La Casa Lobo?
Leo Beltrán: I believe in the first instance that it is something super necessary for the Chilean audiovisual industry and in particular for animation, because what this type of work helps us most is to diversify the industry and not take it towards the mainstream, but in particular to take it towards experimentation and towards a more critical look at reality, which should have the Chilean audiovisual.
Cecilia Toro: I loved Casa Lobo, I know the work of Leon and Cociña some time ago, I loved it because it responded to that freedom that they have, they give free rein to the way of telling, they are not prisoners of an academy or other ways of telling stories, that always conquers. Casa Lobo responded to that with more force than the shorts, this movie was like the consolidation of their language, they managed to have a kind of stop motion vocabulary and that is amazing, it is a great school for all of us.
José Navarro: I loved it, this film managed to differentiate itself from the classic animation that comes to Chile, I loved the super author’s proposal and the game that they make with the layers of the story. As a scriptwriter is what matters most, the story is very simple and has a way of telling that is very different, original. There is humor, criticism, certain acidity in the story that makes it not so dense, because although it is a bit heavy film, I feel that it has the right ingredients to balance that and make it digestible.
Due to what is the success of the film?
José Navarro: Compared to other films that have been made in Chile they have a very different proposal, either because of the target audience they aim for, because of the technique, there were no films with that level or amount of stop motion, there were things in the size of models, while this is real size, it is very different from what had been seen in the previous lengths.
Leo Beltrán: Success must be measured to the extent of what type of success it has, because it is not a massive success or of people in the room, but it is a success of recognition for the type of work it has. It is due, precisely, to the successful experimentation they had, I think it is a maturation of these two authors in the work they were doing, they already had things that were working well with the same technique and similar motives, so I think it is a natural step that being a feature film is a special presentation. It is something rarely seen and that worked for public understanding, which is not an encrypted language despite being an experimental language. There is a nice point in the analogous work that is achieved by putting these techniques at a massive level.
Cecilia Toro: It has to do with the fact that they are more concerned with ideas than with results, that makes what they see finally -the dolls, the funds or how the painting moves- is the answer to what they have as an idea, more that worried that it is cute or look good, they have strength, and for things to have strength they have to have spontaneity and they handle themselves so well with the codes that they can have spontaneity, it’s like when you play an instrument so well that afterwards you can improvise. I think they can already afford to be spontaneous and relax, so the message is super strong. Animation can document historical events, send messages, educate, reflect on why Casa Lobo is so important, because it is super played, the other animated feature films in Chile have a more familiar cut.
Is there darkness that turns out beautiful in Casa Lobo?
Cecilia Toro: I think the most beautiful thing about Casa Lobo is that it’s super absurd, there’s darkness but also humor, irony, maybe if it were only darkness it would be more predictable, but they have a mixture of black humor that is exquisite, disconcerting from beginning to end as it does stop motion, which puzzles because it is reality but it is fiction and it is strange, they take it to the level of the narrative to highlight that.
José Navarro: It has to do with the referents that they use, the concept of children’s stories that counterbalance this super-dramatic story, there are small lights that managed to make a mix of genres that has to do with comedy, the children’s story to tell an intense drama that works well, there are a lot of winks to children’s books, the aesthetic, the imaginary, mixed with the story of this pedophile, it is an achievement that the film has.
Leo Beltrán: I think that is one of the attractive things that they have because when they get rid of the massive work becomes more authentic, then this darkness is typical of the first real animations of stop motion, which are the Czechs, the Russians, they are dry to work those content that later came to us, the old things had a very marked darkness and defined us in our childhood, the cartoons bordered on the dark, then it was connected very well because the audience grew and is a public-maker looking to your audience, it is a very strong connection between the inner child and the sincere realization.