SANTIAGO – Lemebel has won this year’s Teddy award for best documentary at the Berlin International Film Festival. This award is a distinction the festival gives to LGBTQ-themed films. Chile Today spoke with the Chilean director Joanna Reposi: “the award is a recognition of Lemebel as a political activist”.
On February 16, Lemebel, by Chilean director Joanna Reposi, won the Teddy award for Best Documentary at the 69th Berlin International Film Festival, also known as the Berlinale.
This is the 33rd Teddy awarded at the Berlinale festival. While its brother, the Bear award, is the main prize, the Teddy award was created to specifically reward films about the LGBTQ community.
Lemebel captures the life of Chilean writer and artist Pedro Lemebel, who was an icon for the Chilean LGBTQ community, especially during the civic-military dictatorship from 1973 to 1990. The documentary features Lemebel’s art and traces the creation of the collective “Las Yeguas del Apocalipsis” (The Mares of the Apocalypse) with his partner, Francisco Casas.
This group’s work is based on artistic interventions that sought to reflect the reality the country lived, mainly the LGBTQ community or “Marica,” as Lemebel called it.
“Cheerful, happy and honest”
According to BBC World, the judges that awarded this Teddy to the documentary said this film “highlights the importance of resistance in these times when we see voices from all over the world being silenced.”
Reposi shared this moment of happiness on Instagram. She also thanked the dead Chilean artist, adding, “Thank you Pedro for trust, for opening your heart and your life to me.”
View this post on Instagram
No puedo más del orgullo, felicidad y amor!! Gracias Pedro por confiar, por abrirme tu corazón y tu vida❤️❤️❤️Gracias al tremendo equipo que trabajó todos estos años conmigo, a quienes se fueron sumando en el camino porque sin ellxs nada de esto sería posible❤️❤️❤️ y especialmente gracias al amor de mi vida y compañero de ruta Manuel Maira ❤️. Foto @cinemachile
In an interview with Chile Today, Reposi said that this award “has made us very happy, first of all, because it is a recognition of the figure of Lemebel as a political activist against LGBT and Queer discrimination.” She added that “they considered that this is a great movie, that is why we arecheerful, and happy.”
Ernesto Garrat, Chilean film critic, also spoke with Chile Today and expressed the significance of the award, that it “comes to recognize a figure relevant to [both] Chilean and Universal literature.”
Lemebel, the rockstar
Lemebel was a Chilean writer and artist, who, in 2015, died oflarynx cancer at the age of 62. His works, especially his texts, were based on acts of protest to show Chile and the world the marginality that existed in the country, mainly during the dictatorship.
The poverty and, above all, the homosexual reality, or “maricona,” as he called it, were key pieces for all of his artistic manifestations. With autobiographical features, he was able to portray the harsh reality everyday society suffered during these difficult times.
Defiant and disruptive, the image of Lemebel represented the “poor and fag,” as Reposi expressed it. “Pedro was a rockstar,” the director said. “For me, he is one of the best Chilean writers.”
Lemebel has not escaped polemics, even after death. As recently as a few months ago, a controversy arose after students of a school in the Independencia district of Santiago refused to read the author, because of his sexual orientation.
Chile’s history with the Teddy
Chile’s history with the Berlinale’s Teddy award does not start here. Lemebel is actually the fourth such award the country has received. Prior awards were given in 2015, to Nasty Baby, by Sebastián Silva; in 2016, to Nunca Vas a Estar Solo, by Alex Anwandter; and, in 2017, to Una Mujer Fantástica, by Sebastián Lelio.
Nelson Quiroz is Chile Today´s photographer. He also writes about youth culture and fashion, and often contributes with photo series during marches and protests.