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Foreign film Oscar candidate 'Gloria' explores singledom in Chile's clubs

Actress Paulina Garcia in the title role of Sebastian Lelio's
Actress Paulina Garcia in the title role of Sebastian Lelio's "Gloria."
Rio Negro

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For the smaller indie films, an Oscar nod gives the exposure that can bump ticket sales. But the competition's tough. Best Foreign Language Film only gets five slots compared to Best Picture's 10.

"Gloria," Chile's entry in the Best Foreign Language category, didn't make the cut, but it's worth adding to your pre-Oscars viewing list, as casual cinema-goers and film connoisseurs alike try to catch the Oscar-nominated films they missed.

From director Sebastian Lelio, "Gloria" tells the story of a middle-aged divorcée looking for love in Santiago's nightclubs.

Lelio says he was first intrigued by the interior life of mothers. "Usually the question is to the parent, 'Do you know what your children are doing?'" he said. "And (for 'Gloria') we made the same question but in the opposite direction."

Making "Gloria" also gave Lelio the chance to work with Paulina Garcia, a renowned Chilean theater director and playwright, who turns in an intimate performance as the film's title character. Lelio says he's admired Garcia for years. "I was always wondering why no one called her for a main role on a film, since she has this fantastic cinematic presence," he said. 

Garcia's charming, tenacious performance helps elevate "Gloria" beyond a character study. "She should be like a secondary character in a normal film, but we felt compelled to prove that there was a fascinating, strong world around her." Jurors at the 63rd Berlin International Film Festival felt the same way, awarding Garcia the Silver Bear for Best Actress.

Chile submitted "Gloria" in the Best Foreign Language pool. And though it ultimately didn't make the cut, Lelio still values the recognition. But accolades weren't Lelio's goal — he said he was honored to be submitted, but he can take or leave the Oscars. "When it happens, you have to go. When it doesn't, you follow with your work."

"Gloria" is now playing at The Landmark in LA, AMC Rolling Hills 20 in Torrance, and some  Laemmle theaters.