Sanfic Awards: ‘Valeria is Getting Married,’ ‘Sister & Sister’

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Sisterly love ruled at Chile’s 19th Santiago International Film Festival (Sanfic), which wrapped on Aug. 27 where female directors and actors clinched the top prizes.   

Israeli-Ukrainian drama “Valeria is Getting Married” by Michal Vinik and Kattia Zuñiga’s “Sister & Sister” snagged the preeminent Chilean festival’s best film plaudits, adding to their trove of accolades since their respective world premieres. 

Aside from best international film, Vinik also took home the best director gong in Sanfic’s international competition. Picked up by Berlin-based M-Appeal before its Venice world premiere last year, the taut family drama revolves around two Ukrainian sisters: one is content in her married life in Israel and wants her younger sister, the titular Valeria, to marry, too. She and her husband arrange for Valeria to marry but the younger sister struggles to accept the pact.  

“Israeli cinema has been very interesting of late,” noted Sanfic fest director Carlos Nuñez who praised Vinik’s “interesting mise-en-scene, clear points of view and adept work with her actors.”  

Panamanian-Chilean co-production “Sister & Sister” (“Las Hijas”) is an autobiographical coming-of-age tale that world premiered at SXSW before winning best Latin American Fflm at Spain’s Malaga Festival in March.

Aside from snagging best Chilean film at Sanfic, “Sister & Sister” co-lead Ariana Chaves also won for her debut performance. Panamanian-Costa Rican but based in Chile, Zuñiga makes her feature debut with the drama. It follows two sisters, Marina, 17, and Luna, 14, who go to Panama during their summer vacation in search of their estranged father. While tensions rise between them during the trip, they also learn to enjoy new relationships, skateboarding and their newfound freedom. 

Meanwhile, Chile’s Bernardo Quesney won best director for his third feature, “History and Geography” while his lead Amparo Noguera won for her performance in the dark comedy.  

Produced by indie Equeco, “History and Geography” follows a renowned TV comedienne/actor who treks back to her hometown to stage a play about the conquest of Chile in order to recover the artistic recognition she thinks she lost, but in fact never had.  

Best short “Pulcra” revolves around Sibila, a young seamstress who develops a strange obsession with pricking herself with needles and consuming her own blood. Her peculiar fascination strangely helps her find her identity. 

“This year’s selection was stellar; out of 25 submissions, we narrowed it down to nine fiction and nine documentaries, each displaying fresh, original perspectives,” said Nuñez, adding: “We hope that next year will yield an equally good crop.”

Sanfic ran Aug. 20 – 27.  

19th Sanfic Winners, 2023: 

International Competition

Feature Film

“Valeria is Getting Married” (Michal Vinik, Israel, Ukraine)

Director

Michal Vinik (“Valeria is Getting Married”) 

Performance

Nicole Suazo (“Las Demas,” Chile) 

Chilean Film Competition 

Feature Film

“Sister & Sister” (“Las Hijas,” Kattia Zuñiga) 

Director

Bernardo Quesney (“History and Geography,” “Historia y Geografía”)

Best Performance

Ariana Chaves (“Sister & Sister”)

Amparo Noguera (“History and Geography”)

Special Mention

“Bastard, the Inheritance of a Genocide” (“Bastardo. La herencia de un genocida,” Pepe Rovano)

Short Film Competition

Best Short

“Pulcra” (Blanca Rojas)

Special Mention

“Concordia” (Diego Veliz) 

“Prologo de un cuento” (Ashley Salman)

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