Berlinale

By the Fire (Sentados frente al fuego)

Synopsis
Daniel and Alejandra are together since a couple years back. They are both in their mid forties and are embarking on a new adventure: to try their luck as farmers in the countryside. But Alejandra is affected by a serious illness that could slowly eat away her dream of a life together; and that would put the love and patience of Daniel to the test. It's not only the hardships of the illness that affect the couple; it's also the realization that maybe we are not as perfect and noble as we wanted to be.

Director’s note
This film is first and foremost a love story, but not in the classic sense, since it doesn't deal with the highs and lows, or the beginning or the end of a evolved slowly. It took many years to be written and in that long process allowed me to develop an idea that has always intrigued me. The film deals with love and with how that love can be tainted with “impurities” but still remain being love, and even more so, a big and endurable love. By the Fire tells the story of a man whose wife is slowly and painfully dying. Her death leaves him deeply affected, lost and sad. Starting from that idea, based on a true story told by a local peasant during the research before the shooting of my first feature film, Huacho, and from my closeness to life in the countryside since my childhood, I started to imagine this story, the story of the last months of the woman’s life and the desperate attempts of the man to fight death.
The film is first and foremost a love story, but not in the classic sense, since it doesn’t deal with the highs and lows, or the beginning or end of a relationship. It’s a love story because it tells the story of how a man tries in vain to fight death, and how simple, everyday acts can be touched by the will to defeat the inevitable.
Sentados Frente al Fuego takes its name from a poem by southern Chilean poet Jorge Teillier. The image of the poet is that of an old couple seated beside the fire, seeing each other and remembering the bygone years.


World premiere
San Sebastian Film Festival 2011, Zabaltegui Nuevos Directores

Key festivals and awards
San Sebastian Film Festival 2011
Valdivia Film Festival 2011
Abu Dhabi Film Festival 2011
Toronto International Film Festival 2012
San Francisco International Film Festival 2012
Palm Spring International Film Festival 2012
BAFICI 2012
Work In Progress Award, SANFIC 2011

Chile 2011
Director: Alejandro Fernández Almendras (Chile)
Producer: El Remanso Cine (Chile), Pandora Film (Germany)
German WCF partner: Pandora Film
World sales: El Remanso Cine (Chile)

Funded in the WCF Jury meeting in November 2010
Funding: 50,000 €