La casa lobo

The Wolf House
Cristóbal León, Joaquín Cociña
2018

22.02. 19:00 Eng. subtitles CineStar 8
23.02. 20:00 Eng. subtitles Colosseum 1
24.02. 16:00 Eng. subtitles Akademie der Künste
25.02. 18:00 Eng. subtitles Delphi Filmpalast

75 min. Spanish, German.

The stories come in layers. There’s the one narrated at the start, about the joyful community of Germans living in dignity in the south of Chile. It may be set to wholesome archive footage of mountains and rosy cheeks, but even the narrator mentions the rumours, the other, less savoury tales that also circulate. There’s the story that appears as text on the screen, of a girl from the colony, Maria, who fled into the forest to avoid punishment, it in turn involves three little pigs and a big bad wolf. Then there’s the narrative that takes up the bulk of the film, the story of what happens once Maria enters the house she finds in the woods, rendered in intricate, mesmerising stop motion animation. But it’s less a story than an exploration of a space, for the house is never at rest. Pictures dance across the walls, pieces of furniture appear and disappear, rooms expand and contract, lights flicker, figures sprout from the floor like trees. Soon even she herself and the pigs she finds there begin to lose their stable form. As the house shakes and shudders around her, it’s as if it too is trying to tell her something, another story maybe or just a warning? “Once upon a time…” (James Lattimer)

Cristóbal León was born in Santiago, Chile in 1980. He studied Design and Art at the Pontificia Universidad Católica, Santiago de Chile in Santiago, and Art and Media at Berlin University of the Arts. From 2009 to 2011, he was a resident artist at the independent artists’ institute De Ateliers in Amsterdam, The Netherlands. In 2007, he co-founded the production company Diluvio with Joaquín Cociña and Niles Atallah in Santiago. Cristóbal León and Joaquín Cociña have worked together since then. La Casa Lobo is their first full-length film.

Joaquín Cociña was born in Conceptión, Chile in 1980. He studied Design and Art at the Pontificia Universidad Católica, Santiago de Chile in Santiago. In 2007, he co-founded the production company Diluvio with Cristóbal León and Niles Atallah in Santiago. Joaquín Cociña and Cristóbal León have worked together since then. La Casa Lobo is their first full-length film.

Permanent animation

The feature film LA CASA LOBO was shot frame by frame using digital photography. The film is a single sequence shot.
All of the aesthetic elements in LA CASA LOBO are in a permanent state of change. Like in dreams, where one person can assimilate the attributes of another, the story and characters of the film take on different materialities. All of the changes in the house, characters and objects emphasise the permanently under-construction reality of the film.  
The characters are represented in two ways: first as animated puppets made out of paper, cardboard, masking tape and paint; and second as animated drawings on the walls of the house. The animation not only includes the movement of the characters, but also how they appear, vanish and transform from one state to another.  
The house moves and transforms constantly. These changes can be interpreted as earthquakes, as dreams or as manifestations of the house‘s will. We see how the house is destroyed, reshaped and reconstructed. These alterations are performed through wall drawings and paintings, the creation of real cracks and holes, and the movement, destruction and mutation of the furniture.  
The audio landscape is composed of the voices of the characters, ambient sound, Foley and vocal music design. These elements meld into one sound structure designed to confuse the borders between the different elements. The film attempts to evoke Walt Disney‘s children‘s cinema and horror films. Their first feature film, LA CASA LOBO, was produced as a nomadic work-in-process art installation in many different public locations like museums, cultural centres and art galleries.

Chile’s obsessions

LA CASA LOBO was born from an idea that we have put into practice in different short films, which is to carry out a role-playing game as directors. When making films we prefer to dress in the skin of another. We believe that this is a way of thinking about how the notions of identity are created. In LA CASA LOBO, we were inspired by the real case of Colonia Dignidad, a hermetic cult founded by Germans in the south of Chile, infamous for the regime of terror imposed by its leader Paul Schaefer and for the deep collaborations with the dictatorship of Pinochet.  
We imagined that we were the audio-visual producers within the colony. What would happen if Paul Schaefer, the leader of this cult, had been a sort of Walt Disney? What story would he have told?
For us, our films are rituals, incantations or spells. We imagine the film as an incantation in which one consciousness tries to subdue another and also a projection of all the obsessions of the cult and probably also of Chile: obedience, faith, race and relationship with the outside world.
When we began to work together on our short films we didn’t know whether we were making a short film or a video art piece; whether we were creating a work that would be more narrative-driven or abstract in its form. All we wanted was to make audio-visual works where the organic, the material, and the precarious were at the root of the story itself.
With LA CASA LOBO, we wanted to make a film that permanently falls apart and reconstructs itself. We like the organic, accidental, volatile and constantly growing as opposed to the precise, under control and defined. We try to imagine that everything is material and therefore can be transformed, assembled and disorganised; not only the objects, the environment and the bodies, but also the aesthetic and the story.  
LA CASA LOBO presents us with the possibility of creating a feature film where the various elements of beauty, fear, disorder and the narrative itself are born from the same precarious elements that are in permanent states of change. It is the story of a young woman who is hiding in a house, but it is also the story of a physical and mental world that falls apart, destroys itself and renews itself time and again.
LA CASA LOBO is an animal in a state of relentless mutation. And the film moves in the same way the house does: losing its direction and finally telling the story of that new, unknown road.    
(Cristóbal León and Joaquín Cociña)

Conversation with the directors: “The Chilean military is based on Prussian discipline”

Isabel Mardones Rosa: How did you come to make a film about Colonia Dignidad?

Cristóbal León: This topic is endless, and the site has interested me for a long time. As a child, I was in a restaurant there several times with my parents. Colonia Dignidad is very present in the media just now. But I was also inspired by the horror in European fairy tales for children, which I wanted to connect with the political reality of Latin America. In the case of Colonia Dignidad, these two components come together to a degree verging on caricature. The concrete idea to make this film came when we were in Germany.

Joaquín Cociña: We actually develop our films ever more consciously on the basis of the horror that reigns in Chile. Colonia Dignidad is connected with Germany, but not the Germany of today. The Chilean military is based on Prussian discipline. In his novels, the Chilean writer Roberto Bolaño has described both real and fictitious connections between Chile’s intellectual elite and the National Socialists. We also delved into Miguel Serranos’ publications about the Andes and tried to make his ideas clear in a video – even if we don’t share his views.

In your works, and also in LA CASA LOBO, is the point to undermine reality?

Joaquín Cociña: I’m bored by art in which it is easily recognisable that someone is for or against something. I like bringing ourselves into difficulties; at any rate, that’s the role I’m playing at the moment. Part of that is saying things that are uncomfortable.

Cristóbal León: The story LA CASA LOBO was originally just an idea; only later did Colonia Dignidad become its theme.

Joaquín Cociña: Without this background information, the plot development would have had something arbitrary about it. This information is what first gives the concept meaning. There is something bigger and more important than details and the work itself.

LA CASA LOBO developed as an art installation in stages and, in a certain way, nomadically. You showed the individual phases of the project in museum and galleries. What was it like for you to realise such a complex work in front of an audience?

Cristóbal León: On the one hand, it distracted us somewhat, but on the other hand this gave us the first responses to our film. We worked in ten different places and in several countries.

Joaquín Cociña: We wanted this film, in all its components, to be art and full of life. So for us the simplest solution was to produce it where we presented it.

Cristóbal León: We used every phase of the work and we tried to make this process visible in the film.

Do you have a particular working method?

Cristóbal León: We prefer to keep everything as straightforward as possible. We don’t conduct any trial runs. ‘Professional’ working, in the sense of doing what is expected, bugs me. Planning bores me. We work the way it feels best to us. We spend a lot of time doing what we please.

(Interview: Isabel Mardones Rosa, Goethe-Institut, Chile, July 2016)

Production Catalina Vergara, Niles Atallah. Production companies Diluvio (Santiago, Chile), Globo Rojo Films (Santiago, Chile). Directors Cristóbal León, Joaquín Cociña. Screenplay Cristóbal León, Joaqín Cociña, Alejandra Moffat. Director of photography Cristóbal León, Joaquín Cociña. Sound design Claudio Vargas. With Amalia Kassai (Voice), Rainer Krause (Voice).

Films

Cristóbal León: 2011: El Templo / The Temple (14 min., co-directed by Joaquín Cociña), El Arca / The Arc (16 min., co-directed by Joaquín Cociña). 2012: La Bruja y el amante / The Witch and the Lover (20 min., co-directed by Joaquín Cociña). 2018: La casa lobo / The Wolf House.

Joaquín Cociña: 2011: El Templo / The Temple (14 min., co-directed by Cristóbal León), El Arca / The Arc (16 min., co-directed by Cristóbal León). 2012: La Bruja y el amante / The Witch and the Lover (20 min., co-directed by Cristóbal León). 2018: La casa lobo / The Wolf House.