SANTIAGO – The collaboration between director Marcela Said and actress Antonia Zegers led to the birth of Mariana, the main character in “Los Perros” (The Dogs), a film depicting Chilean society’s complicity in the 1973-1990 Augusto Pinochet dictatorship.
“When I began to write the film, I had thought about doing something political, but then I realized I had created a story about patriarchy, about chauvinism, about the world Antonia and I grew up in,” Said told EFE during a joint interview with Zegers.
“Los Perros,” premiering in theaters Thursday, tells the story of a middle-class woman in contemporary Chile who falls in love with her horseback riding instructor, a retired army colonel who, it is soon revealed, was involved in human rights crimes during the dictatorship.
At first, according to Said, the film was going to center on that historic injustice, although the perspective changed when she and Zegers started to give life to the main character.
The film was previously screened at several international festivals, where it received numerous nominations and awards, including two nominations for best actress and best actor at the 2018 Platino Awards in Mexico and the best actress award at the 2017 Stockholm Film Festival.
Zegers told EFE that she and Said aimed to focus on everyday life through the stories of ordinary people, attempting to portray “the human condition.”
This was an “extremely complex” objective, Said added, because it meant writing about “the unconscious that we all carry with us,” to create a woman “who isn’t fragile, but isn’t strong enough” to change things because she is afflicted with the same ailment as the rest of Chilean society: cowardice.
“She is a comfortable middle-class woman, but she suffers the consequences of the dictatorship, which instilled fear in society.”
During Pinochet’s dictatorship, according to official figures, some 3,200 Chileans died at the hands of State agents and 33,000 were imprisoned and tortured for political reasons.