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American Women's Club of Hamburg

Chile's Failure to Protect its Citizens

You’ll Never be Alone (Nunca vas a estar solo)reveals Chilean’s extreme conservative position towards homosexuals.

The Chilean musician Alex Andwandter, who does dance pop music, has brought a poignant and painfully emotional debut film You’ll Never be Alone to the Berlinale. He successfully attempts to show us the brutal reality of Chile’s radical, right wing extremists and the effect it has on the gay community. This story is loosely based on a true story where a young man was brutally beaten to death. Andwandter had met the victim and that was one of main reasons he did not use his own music in the movie.

AA: Being a heavy issue movie, I didn’t want to bring attention back to me. It was a conscience decision, especially due to my voic,e which automatically draws attention back to the singer. I did compose the sound track though.

SRS: I was very impressed how you focused on the father (Sergio Hernandez). He was a much closed character, who had put everything into his work, and then we slowly watch him open up, as he realizes he loss of his son and how much he misses him. He works with, I think mannequins, and that was a brilliant metaphor to capture his mood. Where did you get the idea?

AA: I really like the interpretation of the mannequins. I did it on purpose. I knew that everyone would read a different message into those figures. It is a blank canvas of a human being, so it is very easy to project what you are feeling at that moment into that figure. Even though the idea comes from a true event, I wanted to get as far away as possible from a biographical story. I wanted it to be more abstract like a fairytale so I could reach more people. I took away specific details about neighborhoods. None of the characters have last names for instance. It is a nonspecific neighborhood in San Diego. For me, it is a big issue that everyone should be safe in San Diego. It is slowly changing. We are about fifty years behind many countries on this topic. Same-sex couples can’t marry; you cannot walk hand in hand with the person you love without having serious consequences. You can forget about adoption. It is so different from Berlin.

SRS: Will you show your film for educational purposes or outreach programs?

AA: Yeah, absolutely, I think that the film is designed to explore these issues. It is not made with a strong message, because I believe that a strong message won’t make homophobia go away. It is better if the person can relate to the people in the scenes and feel the emotions of the characters. It is a very different experience. The first step is awareness. The father, who is the protagonist, is done deliberately so that a wide audience can access the film as being normal.

SRS: How did you discover Andrew Bargstad who was so brilliant and perfect in this role?

AA: This was his first film and he was so amazing and so talented. I did a casting and he has a very natural vitality in his character and you miss him so much when he is gone. I knew that I had to have a character with this effect on people. I use the third character, who was his girlfriend, so to speak, to illustrate that. He had reached out to other people as well. He represents a character so full of dreams, very concrete dreams like the ballet school for his future. It is so sad when that possibility is cut off by this type of violence. The actual event was more horrific than I portrayed in the film. But it was weird being involved because they played my songs at his funeral and I was forced to identify with this. I felt like this happens in the movies but not in your own town in reality.

AA: The attackers don’t go to jail for what they did, but what was worse for me was that his boyfriend was willing to deny the relationship. It was not only just a sexual relationship but also an emotional one as well. For him not to admit that he is gay goes much further than the justice system. I do sympathize with the boyfriend who is the sadness character in the film but I appreciate him as a character because it gives the audience a chance to accept or observe this homophobia or discrimination and avoid the confrontation. One can live again through the action of the character. It is almost like a coming-out situation. He turns his back on the attack and ends up silencing the act by making the last blow.

SRS: Why do you think Chile is so far behind the rest of the world in this matter?

AA: Someone needs to mention these ideas and put them out there for the communities and it has to do with the Catholic background (The Latin experience) and Chile is very isolated. It is greatly influenced by a word: Machismo, which comes from Macho and it is macho-sexism. What a man supposed to be like? Those conservative views are coming from the Catholic Church.

This is a shocking, but telling, political and legislational view of Chile. There are only two places in the world that have this ruling; Chile and the Vatican. If you are a 13-year-old girl who has been raped and going to die and can be saved by an abortion, you are not allowed to have an abortion. That is extremely conservative to a point of madness, another example why the idea of a gay couple is far away.

In his struggles with dealing with a brutal death, Alex Andwandter has made this beautiful, but sad, portrait of a young man who can achieve his greatness due to an act of violence. Since the focus is on his father, we see there might be a chance that something can still be redeemed from this event. It is a very touching and sensitive film that should not be missed.

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