Confirming the continuous presence of short films for the past few years in Annecy’s official competition, Chilean animation makes its way to France this year with the short film “Beast,” a 15-minute stop-motion thriller directed by Hugo Covarrubias.
Other Chilean short films that made it to the festival’s selection in the decade of the ‘80s include: Circus, Tango Mortal, and La Caída by Tomás Welss. After the year 2000, films selected include: Beneath the Moonlight (Enrique Ortega), Waldo’s Dream (Lunes) and of course, Bear Story (Punkrobot).
In “Beast,” the script is inspired by true events. The film tells the story of Ingrid Olderöck, an agent of the National Intelligence Directorate during Chile’s military dictatorship. “Personally, I realized that our main character in the story represents one of the darkest, most sinister parts of the political history of Chile, an aspect that right now is worth telling,” says the director.
While developing a series project that explored the life of hidden characters in the history of Chile, Hugo Covarrubias, Martín Erazo (creator of the Patogallina theatre company) and Tevo Díaz (Trébol 3 Producciones), decided to start shaping this production. In a joint effort, they got started with the public fund CORFO Series. Later, they decided to shift the direction of the series by selecting one of the stories – the one they agreed was the most powerful – and turned it into a short film.
Inspired by true events, Beast tells the story of an agent working in the National Intelligence Directorate. Her relationship with her dog, her body, her fears and frustrations reveal a macabre fracture in her mind and in the country.
During the research process they decided to visit the internal worlds and the psychology of the character, without turning it into a biography. “It is a visit to the life of a secret agent, to the relationship she had with herself and everything around her, which turns out to be a clear picture of a broken country, filled with open wounds. More than anything, we used her story as a device to talk about wickedness– obviously with no empathy for what she represents -, trying to understand what frustrations a person as bad as her can have, and if her hatred is inherited,” explains Hugo Covarrubias, Director of “Beast.”
The stop-motion short film explores a mixture of materials, in this case ceramic-like resin – used for the faces of the characters – in contrast to the opacity provided by cardboard – used to create the sets and props. The film was animated entirely by two people, Hugo Covarrubias and Matías Delgado, who crafted complex sequences, especially due to the consequences of the pandemic. “There was a shot that took Matías two weeks to animate. This particular scene was important for two reasons, what it represents to the story and the understanding of animation as an expressive method…It was a little strange to work on the aesthetics of such a dark and cold character. It was a very particular research process, which we completed together with Pablo Castillo in character design, Constanza Wette in Art direction and Cecilia Toro in Costumes,” recalls Covarrubia.
The trajectory behind “Beast”
Hugo Covarrubias started to work in animation professionally in 2005, when he created “Maleza” together with Murial Miranda, which mixed theatre and stop-motion. Simultaneously, they formed Estudio Maleza, a company with which they created two short films “The Feather Pillow” (2007) and “The Night Face Up” (2012), and four plays that mixed theatre and animation, “Maleza” (2006), “El Pelícano” (2008), “Living” (2011) and “Un Poco Invisible” (2013). At the same time, at Zumbástico he was the animation director for the series “The Ogre and the Chicken” and “Horatio and the Plasticines”. Additionally, Hugo created and directed the series “Paper Port.”