The Chilean film The Wolf House (La casa lobo) by Cristóbal León and Joaquín Cociña, winner of the Jury Prize at the Annecy International Animated Film Festival and the Cinema Tropical Award for Best First Film, opens on Friday, March 20 at Anthology Film Archives in New York City and on Friday, March 27 at the Laemmle Glendale in Los Angeles.
Based loosely on the grim case of Colonia Dignidad, a German émigré-run colony in post-WWII Chile that was revealed to have been used to imprison, torture, and murder dissidents during the Pinochet regime, The Wolf House is an animated feature film with a much darker foundation than most. As deeply disturbing as its inspiration would suggest, it is also a truly inspired feat of animation, its extraordinary craft and artistic vision fusing with its profoundly sinister themes to create an experience of exceptional power.
Using stop-motion animation to unfurl a never-ending series of transformations that play out as a single sequence shot, León and Cociña -making their first feature after a series of shorts – tell the grim fairy tale of Maria, a young woman who finds refuge in a house in the south of Chile after escaping from a sect of German religious fanatics. She is welcomed into the home by two pigs, the only inhabitants of the place. As in a dream, the universe of the house reacts to Maria’s feelings. The animals transform slowly into humans and the house becomes a nightmarish world.
Produced painstakingly over the course of several years, and filmed piecemeal within art galleries across several countries, in full view of the gallery-going public, The Wolf House masquerades as an animated fairy tale produced by the leader of the sect in order to indoctrinate its followers. It’s easily one of the most accomplished, transporting, and conceptually rich animated features to appear in recent memory.
Directors Cristóbal León and Joaquín Cociña (both 1980, Chile) have been working together since 2007. They were educated at the Universidad Católica, Santiago de Chile. León also studied at UDK (Berlin) and De Ateliers (Amsterdam). León and Cociña have won numerous awards and their films have premiered at Rotterdam and Locarno among other international film festivals. Their work is frequently exhibited in museums and biennials in Latin America, but it has also been presented at venues such as the Whitechapel Gallery, the Guggenheim, KW Berlin, the Venice Biennial 2013 and Art Basel Statements 2012 with Upstream Gallery. Their debut feature film, The Wolf House, which had its world premiere at the Berlin Film Festival, was produced as a nomadic work in process art installation in many different public locations like museums, cultural centers and art galleries.