For his debut feature film Chilean writer/director Omar Zúñiga Hidalgo adapted his own short film San Cristabel which won the prestigious Teddy Award at the Berlinale in 2015. It is a beautifully executed queer love story that is a near perfect as it could be.
Lucas (Samuel González) has just won a scholarship to go study in Canada so he leaves his home in Santiago to go say goodbye to his sister who lives in small coastal town in the South. Whilst he is there he also says ‘hello’ to handsome broody Antonio (Antonio Altamirano) a local fishing vessel’s boatswain.
From the very first time they meet the two men simply cannot keep either their eyes or their hands of each other. They must however be extremely careful in public in this conservative macho society which is probably rife with homophobia.
Their relationship is instantly intensely passionate and as well as being very physically there is obviously a deep connection between this two very different men. Lucas, who is openly gay, is an artist in his spare time, and is desperately keen to be able to travel and study abroad. Antonio on the other hand, still closeted, loves to take part in local historical reenactments, and is totally committed to this town where he grew up and his grandmother still lives. He’d like nothing more than having his own fishing boat.
Hidalgo’s finely nuanced script is careful not to side with either man as the time gets closer for Lucas to leave. He keeps us guessing until the very end how this will pan out and if he will be leaving on his own.
González and Altamirano, reunited after being in the original short, have an electrifying chemistry together and the screen literally sizzles when they are together. Seeing the two of them in nothing except sweatshirts and underwear dancing together is one of hottest scenes we have seen in a long time
Until recently when we thought of Chilean queer films the two Sebastiáns sprung to our mind : Silva and Lelio. Then last year yet another Sebastián ….. this time…… Muñoz ….. gave us El Príncipe, the most homoeritic queer prison movie. Now Hidalgo’s Los Fuertes aka The Strong Ones cements Chile as a very essential source for excellent queer movies.