In the midst of everything, a Chilean Oscar
You would think we had won the Copa America all over again.
Well maybe not that extreme, but the Oscar brought home by “Historia de un Oso” for best animated short certainly means a lot to the small country from which I originally hail.
With all the controversy surrounding the Oscars this year, it was pretty easy to overlook this bit of news. "Bear Story" (as it is known in English) is in fact, the first Chilean film in history to have won an Oscar and you better believe they’re going to celebrate it.
As I sat in my living room watching, my dad said out loud, “You know, we’re watching history right now.”
I responded, “I bet you they’ll get a hero’s return and a trip to La Moneda”
It has become tradition over the past few years that any time Chileans win an award or trophy of international significance they are pretty much guaranteed a trip to the presidential palace, known as La Moneda.
When Nicolás Massú and Fernando González won the country’s first ever Olympic medals in 2004. When Chile lost to Brazil in the 2010 World Cup. When Chile won the Copa America last year. Heck, even the Chilean miners got a trip to see the President when they had recovered.
Lo and behold, what’s the first headline I see this morning from the Chilean newspapers?
Was I surprised that President Michelle Bachelet was already making a statement about how this award gives hope to the country? No. However, though it was predictable, it doesn’t make it any less endearing.
Like all countries in Latin America, Chileans are fiercely proud when they can stand toe-to-toe with best in the world.
While a presidential trip and national recognition is something a little more acceptable of the champions of sport in our countries, it is refreshing to see the arts also being celebrated. Especially when the story resonates so much with the story of Chile and of many other countries in Latin America.
The film follows the story of a bear who builds a mechanical diorama depicting how he was taken away from his family by the circus. I don’t want to spoil the film for anyone. I suggest that you find it somewhere and see it. It’s worth the nine minutes of your time.
It is a simple premise, but something that weighs heavy when you take the filmmakers’ acceptance speech into consideration.
“Personally I want to dedicate this achievement to my grandfather who inspired the story,” said Gabriel Osorio. “And to all the people like him who suffered in exile. We really hope that this must [sic] never happen again.”
The film’s theme alludes to the life during the Pinochet dictatorship of the 1970s and ‘80s. People lived in fear and many were separated from their families. Some were never seen again. Though I am not old enough to have lived through the military rule, I am acutely aware of the baggage the country still has when it comes to that time in history.
Just last month, Fringe Arts presented “Escuela”, a Chilean play about a group of young kids planning their revolution against the dictatorship. I took my parents, who lived during that era, to go see it. Though he didn’t want to talk about it, I could tell that the story hit my father deeply. It is obvious to me that those wounds still haven’t healed, no matter how much those in Chile want to say they have.
I have no doubt that the film touched those who deemed it Oscar-worthy, but not in the same way it touches Chileans. The golden statuette represents something much more than just a Chilean film winning an award.
It goes without say that I am proud of Osorio and producer Pato Escala for winning such a prestigious award. But not because of the usual nationalism that is tied to winning something like a soccer tournament. Well maybe a little. Viva Chile.
— Jeannette Kaplun (@JeannetteKaplun) February 29, 2016