Oldenburg 2016. Review of “And the Whole Sky Fit in the Dead Cow’s Eye” by Francisca Alegría

Chilean newcomer Francisca Alegría’s first short, “And the Whole Sky Fit in the Dead Cow’s Eye”, is a cinematic bomb that is leaving a trail of explosion on the international festival circuit – and rightfully so! The short was first shown at the Columbia School of Arts Festival where it won three honors, and later had its world premiere at this year’s Telluride Film Festival before hitting Toronto, Oldenburg, New York and Warsaw.

Written by Alegría who received the Katharina Otto-Bernstein Award for Film Production, “Dead Cow’s Eye” is set in an isolated village in the V region of Chile and follows 85 year-old Emetria who has an encounter with the ghost of her former employer, Teodoro. Contrary to her expectations, he hasn’t come to take her to the afterlife, for he has more calamitous plans. But, some bonds prove to be stronger than life or death.

The Cordillera of the Andes and the dry fields of Chile are all characters in this poetic, mystical and haunting film about the pain of (long) life and death, the fight for family, ghosts that come back to haunt us, tradition, superstition and the ability of letting go. Francisca Alegría was inspired by the X of Gold Tarot card (an old man who comes back to his home town where no one recognizes him anymore), news headlines of a story about the death of fifty-five cows struck by a lightning bolt and the tears shed by one of her grandmothers upon reading the news. She has succeeded in masterfully bringing together the Chilean landscape and all the elements of inspiration in one cohesive, ingenious and cinematic whole that, in the end, boils down to a very basic drama between a mother and her son in a world that swings between the ghostly and the absurd yet always rooted in the naturalism of rural life. Francisca Alegría’s storytelling is most certainly innovative, making her short a visionary work of art that stirs emotions and thoughts hard to convey and explain. She is aided in this by the natural and visceral acting of two legends of Chilean cinema, Shenda Román and Catalina Saavedra and the raw imagery of d.p. Matías Llanes.

Bottom line: “And the Whole Sky Fit in the Dead Cow’s Eye” is a brilliant short film.



 O.T.: “Y todo el mundo cupo en el ojo de la vaca muerta”

Production: Forastero, Holy New York Productions, Jirafa (Chile/USA 2016)

Executive producers: Francisca Barraza, Lucas Engel and Joaquín Echeverría

Producers: Birgit Gernböck, Augusto Matte and Florencia Larrea

Director: Francisca Alegría

Screenplay: Francisca Alegría

Cinematography: Matías Llanes

Music: José Ignacio Badía

Editing: Francisca Alegría

Cast: Catalina Saavedra, Gregory Cohen, Shenda Román, Luís Dubó

 Color – 19 min.

Premiere: 04/09/2016 (Telluride Film Festival)

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