In his searing first feature, Chilean director Felipe Gálvez Haberle presents the painful experience of young mixed-race Segundo sent on a bloody mission to clear an expanse of land of Indigenous people for the powerful, relentless man who owns it.

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Centrepiece

The Settlers

Felipe Gálvez Haberle

Births are usually not a fun ride; they’re mostly painful. In his searing first feature, Chilean director Felipe Gálvez Haberle frames the birth of his homeland through the singular, agonizing experience of a young mixed-race man named Segundo (Camilo Arancibia), who’s sent alongside a half-deranged British ex-military soldier and a Texas cowboy on a bloody mission to clear an expanse of land of Indigenous people for the powerful, relentless man who owns it.

The vast, unforgiving landscapes of Patagonia — the “end of the earth” — are the perfect backdrop for a story that can read almost like a classic western for its forceful impulse to capture the mad drive of white men to conquer and dominate everything at any cost. The impeccable production design gets the audience closer and closer to the film’s burning core of absurdity and painful contradiction, making history almost too real to stomach.

But the human toll of such barbarism crucially connects the events to Segundo’s silent gaze — at times inquisitive, at others fearful — in contrast to the perverse outlook of the landowner Menéndez (the unmissable Alfredo Castro), helping us remember that, almost as a rule, history has been told from the perspective of the so-called victors.

DIANA CADAVID

Official Selection, 2023 Toronto International Film Festival

Content advisory: explicit violence, sexual violence, mature themes, frightening scenes

Screenings

Thu Sep 07

Scotiabank 13

Press
12:15pm
Mon Sep 11

Scotiabank 10

Regular
3:15pm
Thu Sep 14

Scotiabank 10

Regular
3:15pm
Fri Sep 15

Scotiabank 9

Regular
9:45pm