Altered States Competition

​Interview with Tana Gilbert, director of «Malqueridas»

​Interview with Tana Gilbert, director of «Malqueridas»

What was the trigger for telling these women's stories? How difficult was it to get them to give their testimonies?

In 2017, through Facebook, I came across profiles of people deprived of their liberty who made images inside the prison, who recorded their daily lives and used that platform to denounce the violations of human rights that occurred inside. During 2018, we joined different organizations that hold workshops in the women’s prisons. This is how we entered San Joaquín, one of the largest women's prisons in Chile. Our first connection with them was through the NGO Leasur, which held prison law workshops, and that allowed us to meet some with whom we have a relationship to this day. We created a bond of trust and began working collaboratively. We never wanted to work with them in a sporadic and utilitarian way, we made an effort to win their trust. We became part of their support network outside of prison. They really wanted to talk about what they had experienced and, over time, they saw the film as an opportunity to tell their stories.

The text at the beginning of the film informs us that cell phones are prohibited inside the prison. Have you had any problems exposing these images? Have the women who appear in the film been informed about the existence of Malqueridas and that what they recorded ended up being in a documentary?

So far there are no negative repercussions of the film on the authorities. There is public interest in the film being seen soon in Chile and allowing discussion about the conditions of mothers in Chilean prisons. Without a doubt, the dialogue continues and we will continue to encourage reflection on the topic. The use of cell phones inside prisons is a very common reality in Chile and Latin America, even though they are completely prohibited. In Chile, this prohibition was only an internal protocol of the Gendarmerie, where they were exposed to being punished with the suspension of visits or confinement in isolation cells. Two months ago, the situation changed and it is illegal. Today they are exposed to the possibility of having their prison sentences extended for the use of cell phones. Therefore, today more than ever it is important to address the issue of communication and how to generate new mechanisms so that families do not lose contact with people deprived of their liberty.

How much material did you have at your disposal to put together the film? What was the selection process and criteria for putting together the narrative of Malqueridas?

The editing process lasted more than a year, in which we worked with the raw material collected. We collected the material for the film over six years. Many of the photographs were recorded and uploaded to Facebook, but also created in order to show us what was happening inside. Some of the women took seriously their roles as creators of these images, which allowed us to access the prison in different ways and dimensions. We ended up collecting a lot of material, around a thousand videos and four thousand photos. On the other hand, their cell phones were usually confiscated in raids and they lost the passwords to their social media accounts where the material was stored. Since they knew that we saved the images for the film, they began to ask for them in order to recover them, especially those images in which they were with their young children, from whom they had been separated. For this reason we do not hide the children's faces in the film, since it is very important for them to see themselves with their children when they were together.