The best way to describe the film NOTICIAS would be to point out what happened at the very end of its screening during the Valdivia Film Festival. Someone from the audience went to up its directors and called them morbid right in front of an astounded crowd which also didn’t know whether to applaud or not once the film was over.

NOTICIAS, the newest documentary by filmmaking couple Bettina Perut and Ivan Osnovikoff, was competing for the best international feature in Valdivia, alongside “Turistas” from Alicia Scherson. This, by the way, stands as a clear example of what is currently happening on the local filmmaking scene: films that clearly have a vocation to appeal the masses must share the room with minimalistic films that clearly have a vocation of defying the conventional film circuit.

NOTICIAS might take a while to reach the cinema screens, mainly because it is a film that is hard to watch: “The local audience grows tired with Chilean cinema because of movies just like this one”, a moviegoer tells me as we walk towards the exit, his comment exemplifying the rare and silent atmosphere that fills the room.

The movie is a fragmented tale about the decadence (both conceptual and physical) that surrounds human experience in the city. By using a News TV show structure as a vehicle, it subverts it to create a complex audiovisual experiment, sometimes heir to Werner Herzog´s more cryptical films (such as Fata Morgana), where the heart of the plot is not in the news itself but oscillates around them, the “aftertaste” of the facts.

NOTICIAS might be the most openly artistic film from these moviemakers who had, in the past, questioned the language of documentary filmmaking with their film “Un hombre aparte”, and who now question TV’s storytelling style treating it with a deconstructive process that shifts it towards a more avant-garde approach.

To tell the story of NOTICIAS would be impossible since there is no story. There is decadence, dismemberment – literally – of the human being, low morals, shallowness and sadness. Conformed as a series of stamps, NOTICIAS configures a collage of our modern times where every element contributes to the film by pushing the cart of city life downhill through murder scenes, openly pornographic shots of deceased bodies or just by observing a group of policemen singing “Hooray, Hooray, Hooray” right after having been witnesses of humanity´s nature as a mere piece of meat.

The film has various parallel plotlines: a group of monkeys from the city zoo (representing our caged, hypersexual and depending society) that watch as the city collapses right before their eyes, a group of tourists impressed by the beauty of the brilliantly photographed landscapes of Chile´s countryside, an old lady’s corpse inside a coffin, a fingernail from a dead man or the bleeding bare feet of a religious fanatic dragging his body towards a Virgin Mary´s temple.

This film is not a documentary as such. It stands closer to fiction, dragging elements from its “in situ recording” style to violently ponder about the role of men and the concept of mankind. The nausea, the flies going through the nostrils of a corpse, the shame on journalism, or the shock of watching a monkey having surgery, forcefully compel the spectator to behold not what the media doesn’t show him, but what it insinuates. Sickness, blood, sex and human decadence are present in the news but formulated under another point of view, under another formal and moral articulation, under a double standard.

NOTICIAS is a useless film in the sense that the viewers feel compelled by it but many of them react badly without letting a moment for sheer analysis. Is visual contamination that doesn’t leave room for recognizing past the filth, all the little sparkly details that constitute our daily life. The audience will not realize that we do indeed coexist side by side with this stark reality and tend to deny it. “What is the point of showing it on the screen anyways” someone would say. Regardless, to generate unpleasantness, to throw the audience out of his chair, all this is an act that’s highly unusual in Chile´s contemporary cinema, where pretty stories tend to prevail and the winners tend to tie up happy endings in order to please the public and have them feel like they have invested in a cinematographic achievement.

Perhaps the most artistic film Perut and Osnovikoff have released to date, this movie works as an artistic provocation large part due to its disenchantment, lack of complacency and beautiful photography of human decay. One step towards maturity that will probably mean the open rejection of a big portion of their fellow filmmakers and professedly, from the audience.

Luis Felipe Horta
Disorder Magazine