What happens when a young woman of limited means who has spent her whole life in orphanages becomes a key witness in a child abuse trial against a famous businessman? And what if what he’s confessing might not be true? That story is what matters. Fernando Guzzoni in his new movie white girlbased on a controversial real case that shocked Chile at the beginning of the century.
Winner of the Orizzonti Prize for Best Screenplay at Venice Film Festival and recipient of the Special Mention of the Ibero-American Award at the Palm Springs International Film Festival, white girl is inspired by the famous Spiniac Casea court case against Chilean businessman Claudio Spiniak, who was accused of various sex crimes against minors and would involve other prominent names in the country’s business and political leadership.
During the trial, one witness came into the limelight because she provided crucial information for the prosecution of the businessman and his accomplices: Gema Bueno, a girl who had spent her whole life in orphanages and who was assisted by the priest José Luis Artiagoitia. For a year, their statements kept Chilean public opinion in suspense, until an interview with the newspaper ThirdWell, he would make a confession that would cost him his freedom.
“I found the character of Gemita Bueno very intriguing because she set a precedent for a subversive female character: she came out as a sort of double-standard heroine who was looking for justice, but with methods that weren’t so orthodox. That seemed like a big challenge to me,” Guzzoni says of the reasons that made him embark on the case.
On this border between lies and truth, the film focuses on the contrast between the world from the outsidesocial and institutional, and the inner life of the protagonist (Blanca, played by Laura López), whose deep reasons are not revealed to us.
Fernando Guzzoni has become one of the new voices in Chilean cinema, touching on subjects of great political and social importance for his country: the daily life of a dictatorship’s blackmailer (Meat from the dog2012) or generational tensions between adults who experienced Pinochetism and young people (Jesus, 2016). This trend continues white girlfor which the filmmaker undertook an investigative process that included reviewing police files and interviewing journalists and psychologists involved in the case to find the elements necessary to transfer them to the screen.
With the information, the director built a fiction that was inspired by the facts but also voiced his own concerns. “I never imagined it as an imitative exercise of reality, nor with any journalistic or historicist desire; he wanted to emphasize and problematize reality,” says the filmmaker.
In an interview, Guzzoni shares the visual choices he made to highlight the tensions in which Blanquita lives, his view of progressivism in Latin American reality, the need for cinema to shed light on dark aspects of political evolution, and his Interpretation of lies as an element of justice.
The film has a sober, descriptive tone. You noted that you were looking for a synergy between the word and the image and viewed the film in a very “textual” way. How did you find that tone in the structure of the script?
I thought the focus of the film was addressing the word. He felt it important to make it clear that the dryness of the descriptions of the abuses had to be expressed through the testimony and not through the image, particularly as he felt it might be visually re-victimizing; Instead, the word was presented as an oral history transmitted from one character to another. It was just as effective or even more powerful. It seemed to me that the “Word” contained the central spirit: the versions of the truth. How the word created a reality and mobilized the search for justice even when used in an unorthodox way.
In some interviews you have mentioned that you have tried to separate the psychological world of Blanquita with blurred edges and the public and institutional world with a colder and more open image. Furthermore, how have you used the possibilities of the image to explore this dichotomy between truth and lies, the public and the private, the institutional and the personal?
I felt that there was a space of plasticity for the film and that this space was not naturalistic but expressive and that it corresponded to a personal imagination, that is, to enter the enigmatic mind of a girl building a new identity. So this world had the ability to have arbitrariness: sometimes Blanquita looks at fire through a window and we don’t know if it’s a nightmarish image, something she’s building in her head, or a symbolic association; The same applies to his walks through the forest, which have an archetypal character. I wanted to contrast that with the hyper-real world she faces; this world dealing with the social and the public, with those institutions that have them at their service, where it is a disciplined body and which had a colder and more concrete character.
As for the idea of lying, you mentioned at one point that you are interested in it as an extramoral element. If you have any references to this, what is your point of view on moralizing lies and how was the cinematic treatment done?
I think that lying used as a means of seeking justice poses a major ethical and moral dilemma, as in this case. On the other hand, it’s a very subversive tool and that seems to me to be the interesting thing about it white girl It challenges the viewer to make their own interpretation of it. In general, I don’t particularly like moralizing looks, I’m much more concerned with revealing the complexity behind a human problem, because I understand that life cannot be captured in binary terms, even if there are tendencies that strive for standardization. The decision to make the film was all about the subversive character of a victim who not only was a victim but also thought about other things and acted accordingly.
I think that has to do with the political position that you have expressed on other occasions by saying that you start from progressivism. Do you think that there is a lack of specifically progressive portraits and that they elude the moralizing visions of Latin American cinema, or Chilean cinema in particular?
I think that, in my opinion, progressivism does not stop suffering from moralizing positions. I believe that there is a dispute between two types of progressivism: one that is punitive and preachy and the other that wants to understand that things are not one-dimensional. I am critical of this punitive progressivism because, despite their differences, it does not seem so different from reactionary or even neo-fascist movements.
I believe what we need to do as Latin Americans (and I say “we have” because I believe we have significant differences from the Anglo-Saxon world from which we have influenced) is to embrace a more progressive thought forge that’s more They resemble our idiosyncrasies and don’t just take on someone else’s visions that don’t work. They will work because we are different. Sticking with the North American vision is a disservice because they have another way of connecting with justice, they believe in their judicial institutions; I’ve seen people who committed fraud go to jail. That would never happen in Chile. It must be taken into account that we are not equally connected to justice, because our judicial apparatus does not work and there, for example, lies have to be rethought as an instrument of justice.
In times of obfuscation and post-truth, when so much information compels us to hone our critical skills to distinguish between what is true and what is not, tell me what is not true white girl. What do you think this film brings to this topic in the context in which we live?
I think we are experiencing a revolution in the classic sense of the word. We are living a shift in the way we connect. Today we can get more coverage than some newspapers by publishing over the phone; Currently, there are people and influencers with more followers than some traditional media. We are facing a digital revolution that is much more horizontal, but in this state it is also more difficult to grasp and understand, especially considering that the networks are also machines that serve specific interests and in which it is difficult to manage them to recognize whether what we see is real or not. This has also undermined critical thinking based on a thought slogans. Of course, I don’t think you have to take an obscure look at the technology either, but you have to question it.
In this sense, the film also goes through the critical thought process of how the political impact of the networks has affected public opinion and how truth and lies are still contested in a struggle for the future that is still elusive. sharp.
The film white girl It’s already showing in Mexican cinemas.