La telenovela errante
(The Wandering Soap Opera)
Perhaps not everyone knows that the extraordinary career of Raúl Ruiz, in addition to 120 films, includes also an interlude as screenwriter of telenovelas for Mexican TV. It was 1965 and the time when his relationship with the camera was deepening, first working for the small screen and then, in 1968, creating Tres Tristes Tigres that, at Locarno, won first prize the year following its debut. Cinema and television in short are closely connected in the beginnings of the great Chilean filmmaker, who often tainted the aesthetics and production methods of the former with the latter.
It is well known that Ruiz, following the coup d'etat of 1973, after 18 productions left his country and became a stateless citizen, creating films in France, Italy, Portugal, Germany, Holland. He returned to his homeland briefly in the 1980s and then again after the fall of the Pinochet regime. In 1990 he was invited for a workshop involving some film and television actors; with them he shot quickly, as was his custom, a film that he intended to be a portrait of Chile seen through the filter of the soap opera. The film assembled by his accomplice Valeria Sarmiento remained unfinished until a few months ago, when the reels found at Duke University were transferred to Chile for the work of restoration and edit.
Thought of as a journey punctuated in 7 days, La telenovela errante is a film in which sequence after sequence passes from the reproduction of a reality where words do not communicate anything to a vision where nothing is more real. A slow progression in which the TV starts to speak with the public and the screen is no longer a barrier but becomes a porous membrane that connects different places. A film that comes from the past and that today finds the strength to venture out for first time at the cinema because it still able to read and tell the present as few others. In full unison with that mission towards "writers' discoveries" which Locarno has never reduced to personal films.
By Carlo Chatrian