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Promotional image of the Chilean short film Bestia.
'Bestia' represents an important nomination for Chilean cinema. Photo: @MuseoMemoriaCL.

'Bestia,' the inspiration for the Chilean short film nominated for an Oscar

After a successful tour of different festivals around the world, the animated short film from Chile achieved outstanding recognition.

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A dark and bloodthirsty woman, the product of an era that no Latino should forget in Chile, is the protagonist of the animated short film by Chilean Hugo Covarrubias, which was recently named a nominee for an Academy Award.

After successfully touring various international festivals, Covarrubias's film, entitled Bestia, earned a place among the contenders for the most sought-after award in world cinema. It presents a story with a harrowing atmosphere at the height of the Pinochet dictatorship that lays bare a turbulent past in Chile that many prefer to forget.

Who is the story based on?

Bestia is based on a skilled and dangerous torturer from the Chilean military regime who was in charge of a detachment of criminal women within the country's police force. Ingrid Olderöck, also known as 'The Woman with the Dogs,' became the most powerful woman in the National Intelligence Directorate (DINA) thanks to her violent and cold operations.

Despite her disastrous reputation as one of the most fearsome torturers, she is not a character that is widely known. The film goes a long way to unravel her story and its brutality.

"I think she represents evil at its best, despite being only a part of this DINA gear," Covarrubias told German outlet DW.

Covarrubias based part of his story on the book by Nancy Guzmán, Ingrid Olderöck, the woman with the dogs, where the frustration, paranoia and mental incongruity of the cruel torturer were first revealed. However, in detaching himself from the text, the director decided to delve into the character's psyche, see beyond the violent police agent, and discover a human being full of traumas.

Interviews with the La Bestia

The investigative book by Guzmán, who according to Covarrubias is the one of the best to tell the story of the woman, the daughter of Germans and an expert in the arts of military discipline, is based on a series of interviews with the Bestia, and was published in 2014.

The writer reveals that Olderöck grew up in a home that praised Hitler's Nazi regime and her parents were extremely harsh towards her and her sisters. She was educated to see Chileans as inferior people, regardless of being born in the South American country.

'The woman with the dogs' always stood out in military life, and was also the founder of the female Carabineros school.

"She was a commando herself, she took all the courses she could, she was an expert in martial arts, shooting, horseback riding, skydiving and an expert in dog training," Guzmán described.

Scene from a short film from Chile called Bestia

Dog trainer

Olderöck took advantage of her place as a dog trainer to carry out torture using German Shepherds. Detainees, both male and female, were taken to a place where they were sexually abused by the canine.

Historical value

For Covarrubias, who took three and a half years to complete the project, it is important to bring these episodes to light, especially in the context where a large part of society still doesn't believe in the horrors of the dictatorship.

These characters, who became strong amid institutional crises and in scenarios where attacks on human rights were normalized, must be recognized and made visible to better understand the evils of out time.

Check out the short film below:

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