Los Colonos (The Settlers), as seen by Felipe Gálvez
In his first feature film, Felipe Gálvez focuses on a hidden aspect of his country’s history, brought to the screen for the first time, In Selection by Un Certain Regard. Los Colonos (The Settlers), a historical thriller co-written with Antonia Girardi, lifts the veil on the genocide of native people at the beginning of the 20th century in Chilean Patagonia.
Few texts cover the question of the massacre of the Selk’nam people, renamed the “Onas” by the Chilean white people. Erased from the history books, this genocide has also disappeared from the national memory, as though it never happened. Felipe Gálvez uses his film to turn back time: he focuses on the relatively recent period of colonisation of the native people’s lands at the south of the country, in Patagonia. The indigenous population, which has almost disappeared today, paradoxically forms part of popular imagery in Chile, whereas few people are aware of this extermination.
“In Chile the massacres of indigenous people were expurgated from official history”: the film starts from this premise and also shows a different image of Chileans, as settlers on their own land at the beginning of the 20th century.
Los Colonos, which uses the talents of experienced and first-time actors, is a tale in three parts, which follows three horsemen hired by the rich landowner José Menendez to empty his land of its native population and open the route to the Atlantic. The final aim of the colonisers being to “civilise” that immense, fertile territory.