A young woman uses her storytelling gifts to share the magic of the pictures she has seen in the cinema with the poor inhabitants of a desert mining community, in director Lone Scherfig’s inspirational drama.


Special Presentations

The Movie Teller

Lone Scherfig

In the nitrate salt flats of Chile’s Atacama Desert, mine workers have created a community amidst a harsh, precarious life in the driest place on Earth. For María Magnolia (Bérénice Bejo, also at the Festival in Sisterhood), wife to one such miner (Antonio de La Torre, The Last Circus, TIFF ’10), the desire for something more than just hardship runs deep. Her passion and sophisticated taste for film, music, and entertainment enchants Nansen (Daniel Brühl, All Quiet on the Western Front, TIFF ’22), the mine’s soft-spoken, but respected, administrator. It also signals her secret longing to fulfill her dream of pursuing the arts. After a while, she is painfully compelled to leave her family behind in search of the bright lights of the big city.

Left behind is her daughter, María Margarita (Sara Becker), who has inherited her mother’s love for movies. She’s also a gifted performer, transforming herself on stage when she recounts to her family (who can only afford one ticket among them) the pictures she has seen in the town’s cinema. Soon she becomes the community’s most prominent star. As the “movie teller” she transports her audience to the new, exotic, and epic worlds she discovers onscreen, allowing them to escape their daily lives.

As the changing times threaten to erode the community, and despite the hardships that life throws at her, María defiantly continues to breathe life into the people of this unforgiving land, immortalising their struggles in her stories of drama, humour, romance, and courage. The Movie Teller is a celebration of our capacity to defy even the harshest circumstances, to find love, inspiration, and hope where none of these seem possible.


Official Selection, 2023 Toronto International Film Festival

Content advisory: accident trauma; sexually suggestive scenes


Mon Sep 11

Scotiabank 8

Fri Sep 15

Royal Alexandra Theatre

Sat Sep 16

Scotiabank 13