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Andrés Gallegos
26th Raindance Film Festival 2018
WORLD PREMIERE | CHILE, 2018, 17 min | Tickets

Chile, 1989, the story of Diego, an eleven-year-old shoe shiner. Based on a true story, we see his struggle to survive and the loss of his innocence.


Hey Andrés, thanks for talking to TNC, how is everything going?

Everything is all right, thanks for asking. And thank you very much for this opportunity.

As this is going to be world premiere are there any nerves ahead of the screening?

Of course, there are some nerves. Each time the film is shown in a theatre, it is a moment of connection with the audience where an interchange takes place on an intellectual and emotional level, which is very challenging and rewarding, at the same time.

What does it mean to be screening Shoe Shiner at Raindance 2018?

It means a milestone in my filmmaking career. I have always seen Raindance as a festival that opens doors to new visions and narratives from different parts of the world, and a great opportunity for filmmakers to show films from my country. I am very grateful to be there now.

Tell me a little bit about Shoe Shiner, how did the film come about?

For me, this film is very personal. It was born from one of the most precious memories I have from listening to my grandfather telling me passages of his life. The script is based on his childhood, and it portrays one of his adventures as a shoe shiner in Talca, my hometown. This story has always resonated with me and, during the evolution of my creative process as a filmmaker, I have been able to identify its narrative qualities and cinematic potential. Wanting to bring it to a film form was a very natural decision for me.


What was it about this true story that interested you so much as a filmmaker?

The fact that the script is based on a real story, also very close to me, is a reflection of my commitment to certain narratives that I feel close to, that we can observe in my home country on a daily basis. In Chile, the greatest manifestation of segregation is rooted in class division. We live in such a dynamic that everything is articulated in a way that the less privileged classes have a lack of access to basic rights like quality education, working opportunities, and health, directly affecting their human condition.

How does a true story affect how you write your screenplay?

I come from the world of cinematography and my relationship with screenwriting started late in my career. In my first short film, which was inspired by a family photograph, I had certain guides dictated by that image that helped me when addressing the construction of the story. However, the vast freedom that I had to write that script made my writing process not easy at all. In Shoe Shiner, having a pre-established narrative made me able to develop the story more straightforwardly.


What was the hardest scene for your film?

The most difficult scene to film was the one where the police take the protagonist with a group of street vendors into prison. The energy of the set was very dense and uncomfortable. While it’s true we were in a fiction set, the scenery, the lighting and the tone of the scene projected a great emotional load on the team. In addition, the creative decision to do it in a sequence shot made it technically more difficult by demanding many rehearsals and takes.

As well as being a writer/director you are also an award-winning cinematographer have you always had a passion for filmmaking?

My passion for filmmaking is constantly growing, especially when I have the opportunity to work around narratives that move me. I think there's a lot that needs to be told, and cinema as a device is a beautiful and powerful way to do it.

How has your approach to making your films changed since your debut?

As I move forward in filmmaking I realize my inclination towards narrative universes that are close to reality. I tend to create pieces that are inspired by concrete experiences. However, dealing with this approach can become complex in terms of dynamics of representation if we think of cinema as an allegorical medium. In general, I think that I am increasingly aiming to make coexist the world of fiction with that of non-fiction, and I feel comfortable in a more hybrid mode of creation.

"...the more you deepen into creative themes and the planning in pre-production, the better the result of the film will be."

How would you describe Shoe Shiner in three words?

The forgotten ones.

Do you have any advice or tips for any fellow filmmaker?

An advice…

I believe that being honest and transparent with your audience is fundamental when it comes to establishing a discourse in any type of artistic creation. The point is to make someone feel identified with the piece, and that has great value and responsibility. Also, from a more practical perspective, I always advise that the more you deepen into creative themes and the planning in pre-production, the better the result of the film will be.

And finally, what do you hope people will take away from this film?

I hope the audience can connect in depth with the inner world of the main character as it reflects what many people live in my country.

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