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The 2011 AFI Fest Filmmakers | “Expecting” Director Francesca Fuenzalida

The 2011 AFI Fest Filmmakers | "Expecting" Director Francesca Fuenzalida

Expecting. Waiting. A teen girl with a bright future buys some pills from a woman on a park bench. She goes home and her parents are out of town. Her boyfriend comes over. This could be preparation for a night of fun, but that’s already happened. Now she’s pregnant and since abortion is illegal in Chile, the black-market pills are supposed to induce an abortion safely at home. She takes the drug and, as they wait for it to take effect, the history of her relationship with her boyfriend slowly unfolds until it becomes an intense life-or-death moment that will forever change everyone involved.

Writer/director Francisca Fuenzalida delivers a well-crafted low-budget film that manages to create suspense and drama with essentially two characters in one location. “Expecting” provides a truly insightful and realistic perspective on teen pregnancy and relationships. [Description by April Wright of AFI Fest]

[indieWIRE invited directors with films in 2011 AFI Fest’s Breakthrough, New Auteurs and Young Americans section to submit responses in their own words about their films. Get to know the films before they screen. AFI Fest takes place November 3 – 11 in Los Angeles.]

“Expecting (La Espera)”
Breakthrough section
Director: Francisca Fuenzalida
Screenwriter: Francisca Fuenzalida
Producer: Gastón Chedufau
Director of Photography: Pablo Letelier
Editor: Rodrigo Saquel
Production Designer: Pamela Chamorro
Music: Sebastián Jarpa
Cast: María de Los Ángeles García, Diego Ruiz, Claudia Hidalgo, Maite Neira

Director’s Bio: Chilean director Francisca Fuenzalida is a graduate of the AFI Conservatory (Class of 1999). Her short film, “La Hija Del Trauco”, played at film festivals around the world. Fuenzalida has written scripts for several Chilean TV networks as well as a book about maternity issues. “Expecting” is her feature film debut.

Responses courtesy of “Expecting” director Francisca Fuenzalida.

Your movie: In 140 characters or less, what’s it about?

Two school chilean teenagers, an unwanted pregnancy, a country where abortion is illegal and punishable with prison. A long night real drama.

Now tell us what it’s really about.

The topic in “Expecting” is equally difficult to talk about, individual freedom, especially for women versus the conservatism of a society. Lack of communication between parents and children, and between citizens to address ethical issues. It speaks of the contradiction between what happens, an abortion, and what family and society, as ourselves, think should happen: to protect life.

From fact to fiction…

I graduated as a journalist, but went to Los Angeles to the AFI Film Conservatory, getting my Masters in scriptwriting. I’ve always loved writing stories since I was in school. Soon after graduating I started making a living writing movies and TV series. A real dream.

Stories from Chile…

I read an article called “Abortion Express”, which caught my attention because it talked about how Chile had around 160,000 illegal abortions, a country where abortion is a crime even in cases where the life of the mother was in danger or fetal malformation. A country in which the divorce law was passed only a few years ago, but on the other hand is full of contradictions such as having had a woman president who had recently been separated and is atheistic. That is the country I live in and where I get my stories.

Challenges in making the film…

[Challenges were] getting the actors to reach a level of performance that seemed so real as if they were “living the movie” because it was filmed almost in real time, very documentary style.

What might audiences take away from the film…

Audiences will relate to the characters and the story as well as the reality of the situation with teenagers vs. abortion in Latin America.

Any specific film inspirations?

“The Son,” by the Dardenne Brothers, inspired the style of this film.

In the works…

A television series called “Dignity Colony,” and two movies, a comedy co-produced with Canada and USA and a romantic comedy co-produced with Venezuela.

Anything else to add?

Don’t miss the screening. You will love it.

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