When thousands of fish die in a polluted river in southern Chile, Magdalena, a woman long-deceased, emerges amongst their lifeless bodies. Magdalena encounters her widowed husband, sending him into a state of shock and prompting the return of their daughter, Cecilia. Magdalena’s presence and her effect on the environment stirs curiosity and fear among her family. As the past comes into focus, mother and daughter are met with the opportunity to change the future.
Cecilia and her children travel to her aging father’s dairy farm after he has a heart attack. Back in her childhood home, Cecilia is met by her mother, a woman dead for many years, whose presence brings to life a painful past chorused by the natural world around them.
Francisca Alegría is an award-winning filmmaker who obtained her degree in Directing from the Universidad Católica de Chile and her M.F.A. in Screenwriting and Film Directing at Columbia University. Her short film AND THE WHOLE SKY FIT IN THE DEAD COW’S EYE received the award for Best International Fiction Short Film at the 2017 Sundance Film Festival, Best Latin American Short Film at Miami Film Festival and was selected at Telluride Film Festival, Toronto International Film Festival, and New York Film Festival. Alegría’s debut feature, THE COW WHO SANG A SONG INTO THE FUTURE was selected for the Sundance Screenwriters and Directors Labs and will premiere in the World Cinema Dramatic Competition at the 2022 Sundance Film Festival.
Selected director’s filmography:
2021 – THE HUMMING OF THE BEAST
(La Vaca Que Cantó Una Canción Hacia El Futuro)
2016 – AND THE WHOLE SKY FIT IN THE DEAD COW’S EYE
(Y Todo El Cielo Cupo En el Ojo de la Vaca Muerta)
2010 – ON THE TABLE
(Sobre La Mesa)
OF THE DIRECTOR
THE COW WHO SANG A SONG INTO THE FUTURE takes place in the South of Chile, in the Region of the Rivers, wherein 2017 thousands of Fish appeared dead, and the causes were never confirmed. It happened a few months after the installation of a pulp and paper factory (which has been reported for spilling toxic waste into the river and is still functioning). Like in many parts of the world, my country has had several mass deaths of animals, and no authority has prioritized the protection of its ecosystems over the economic growth provided by private companies.
Thinking of those Fish, I wondered if they knew that something was wrong before they died. I wondered if they felt fear while agonizing or if they could see where they were going next. A once magnanimous belief system is falling and reaching the state of agony that Mother Earth has been in for a long time... we are all suffering together now, and I wish that we could be more aware, more empathic, and more willing to listen.
The characters, and especially Cecilia, are dealing with old wounds in the place where Cows live, the Great Mothers, who are forced into a system that separates them from their children. The Cows have become the exploited body of the feminine, of maternity, of Earth’s abundance, and the more Cecilia spends time there, the more she empathizes with them, understanding her own family’s history. Magdalena, like the Cows, is a woman who felt trapped in her previous life, and now comes back to live freely. Her appearance adds another ‘Fantastic’ layer to the film. She is a ghost of flesh and blood, with primal urges like eating, laughing and having sex. Her presence brings a humorous touch to the overall world. Ironically, Magdalena is the character that is most alive, and her aliveness permeates the rest of the characters and her surroundings. When she interacts with Tomás and feels her sadness and anguish, Magdalena becomes a sort of channel for both of their pain.
THE COW WHO SANG A SONG INTO THE FUTURE has a lyrical frame, constructed by Animal Choruses. The animals communicate what's going on in their realm. They don't ask for much, they just want to be acknowledged as they lucidly cross into the afterlife. In their songs lives my hope for us to consider them as the honorable beings that they are.
click to read more
Is your work inspired by personal experiences?
Personal experiences and unfiltered images that came in the first years of conceiving this story.
As an artist, have you faced any challenges or cultural barriers that prevented you from creating? If so, how did you overcome them?
Yes. As a Latin American woman you are sometimes infantilized and taken less seriously, especially when working with older white men. This hasn't prevented me from creating, but it has made the creative process less fluid, because I need to rationalize and analyze certain behaviors, to then either modify my own professional approach in meetings or ask someone else to observe their treatment towards me.
Looking at the film The Cow Who Sang A Song Into The Future, you touch upon the important themes of motherly nature. What’s the significance and importance behind it?
When I started writing the film, I had to heal the bond with my mother. I wasn’t aware of how much I had punished her, and other women in my lineage. Instead, I had idealized my father and the rest of the men in my family. Slowly I began “bringing down” these subconscious codes, which were blurring my experience as a woman and creator. I began making peace with my own motherly nature. I am not a biological mother yet, but I realized the truth in mothering other forms of creation, such as a film. And within this overarching theme of motherhood, the main source became Mother Earth and its rich, mysterious and non-judgemental flow of life and death. This film made me love everything out there even more, with no hierarchy.
What do you want audience members to take away when looking at your work?
I just want them to connect in whatever non-intellectual way they feel like connecting. My hope is that they find in my work a space for releasing any preconceived ideas of life and death, and just melt into what’s on screen. I hope they get out of the film filled with emotions and sensations they can’t explain with words. That’s a big hope, I think… but this is what I am interested in at the moment.
When do you typically feel most inspired when creating your work?
Anytime I am laying down with my eyes closed or when I am near any other non-judgemental creative minds. I get inspired at home, in a little remote island in the south of Chile surrounded by the rainforest or at a city cafe with a lousy TV show.
What are the next steps for your film/project?
To show it to people. It’s ready to get out into the world.
click to read more
Leonor stars as the lead of THE COW WHO SANG A SONG INTO THE FUTURE which was just announced for Sundance. She is currently shooting the comedy MIÉNTEME for Amazon. Previously, Leonor shot the lead in the independent AMERICAN CHERRY for director Marcella Cytrynowicz in association with Ridley Scott. Leonor plays a lead in the Albert Hughes film ALPHA for Sony. Varela previously starred as a lead in Paramount’s CAPTIVE opposite Kate Mara, David Oyelowo, and Michael K. Williams. Before that she appeared as ‘Danielle’ in RIDE opposite Helen Hunt and Luke Wilson. Prior to that she starred as ‘Marta Del Sol’ on TNT’s “Dallas.” Other leads include BLADE II opposite Wesley Snipes and Ron Perlman, Weinstein’s HELL RIDE, Luis Mandoki’s award-winning film INNOCENT VOICES and THE TAILOR OF PANAMA opposite Pierce Brosnan, Geoffrey Rush, Jamie Lee Curtis and Brendan Gleeson. Varela won an Imagen Award for her work in the film WHERE GOD LEFT HIS SHOES opposite John Leguizamo.
click to read more
Mia Maestro made her feature debut in Carlos Saura’s TANGO, which earned Golden Globe and Academy Award nominations for Best Foreign Film. Her extensive film credits include Walter Salles’ THE MOTORCYCLE DIARIES opposite Gael Garcia Bernal, Julie Taymor's acclaimed biopic FRIDA, Oliver Stone’s SAVAGES opposite Benicio del Toro, Wolfgang Petersen's POSEIDON, Miramax's SECUESTRO EXPRESS, Lucrecia Martel’s THE HOLY GIRL and THE TWILIGHT SAGA: BREAKING DAWN - PART 1 & 2. Mia most recently starred in Domenico De Feudis’ Italian feature THE BINDING for Netflix. She stars in Francisca Alegría's THE COW WHO SANG A SONG INTO THE FUTURE, scheduled to premiere this January at the Sundance Film Festival. She is attached to star in AFTER HIS DEATH to be directed by Lucio Castro in 2022. Mia just wrapped production on Scott Z Burns’ climate change anthology, EXTRAPOLATIONS, alongside Edward Norton. Other television credits include multiple starring roles in hit series including Guillermo del Toro's ”The Strain” or FX opposite Corey Stoll, J.J. Abrams' “Alias” for ABC, and a recurring role in “Mayans M.C.” and “Scandal.”
click to read more
Alfredo Castro was born in Santiago, Chile. He has a Bachelor of Arts and is a theater director, actor and teacher. He studied at the London Academy of Music and Dramatic Art. In 2002, he founded the Teatro La Memoria Theater Research Center. He has worked hand in hand with Chilean filmmaker Pablo Larraín on FUGA, TONY MANERO, POST MORTEM, NO and EL CLUB; films for which he has received numerous accolades. He has also starred in feature films such as TENGO MIEDO TORERO –which gave him a nomination for the Platino Awards 2021–, by Rodrigo Sepúlveda; LAS CONSECUENCIAS, by Claudia Pinto; BLANCO EN BLANCO, directed by Théo Court; LOS PERROS –Platinum Award for Best Male Performance–, by Marcela Said; KARNAWAL –Biznaga 2021 Silver for Best Supporting Actor at the Malaga Film Festival–, directed by Juan Pablo Félix. In theater he has directed, dramaturgically and adapted, among others, the following works: Testimonial Trilogy (“Adam's Apple,” “Blood Story,” “One-Eyed Days”), “Un tranvía llamado Deseo,” by Tennessee Williams; “Casa de Muñeca,” by Henrik Ibsen; “Distinto,” by Eugene O'Neill; “Hechos Consumados,” by Juan Radrigán; ""Jamás el Fuego Nunca"",” by Diamela Eltit; “Mano de Obra,” by Diamela Eltit; “Las Sirvientas,” by Jean Genet; and “Rey Lear,” by William Shakespeare. In the area of teaching, he has served as a professor in the Theater Department of the University of Chile, in the School of Theater of the Pontificia Universidad Católica de Chile, Fernando González Theater Club, among others.
click to read more
Marcial Tagle, a comedy and drama performer, was born on October 4th, 1973, in Santiago, Chile. He studied drama at Fernando González Drama School and later in Barcelona, Spain at El Timbal Drama School. He has made over 20 films since his debut in 1994, including all four of director Pablo Larraín's. His career includes leading and supporting roles in 8 telenovelas and 20 TV series, most notably ""Casado con Hijos,” the Chilean version of ""Married with Children.” Tagle also appears in In NO which was nominated for 1 Oscar Best Foreign Language Film of the Year Chile in 2012, with 13 wins & 21 nominations total. He also played in UNA MUJER FANTÁSTICA (A FANTASTIC WOMAN) 2018, Oscar Winner Best Foreign Language Film of the Year, with 31 wins & 41 nominations total. His latest performance in a movie was in LA VACA QUE CANTÓ UNA CANCIÓN HACIA EL FUTURO (THE COW WHO SANG A SONG INTO THE FUTURE) in 2020. He is currently working on two international TV series “The Robinsones” a Chilean Spanish co-production and “La Isla” (Easter Island) a Chilean-Spanish-German co-production.
click to read more
Enzo Ferrada Rosati was born the 10th of August of 2005, in Santiago, Chile. He’s been studying classical and pop singing since he was 9 years old at the Verónica Villarroel Academy, where he has also had musical theatre, drama, stage direction, piano and dance lessons. He has attended several workshops and classes with teachers from AMDA, and also TV and stage acting lessons from the Matus Actors Academy and a course with professors from Universidad Católica. Thanks to his early studies, he has been able to perform multiple times in plays, musicals and concerts in front of massive audiences. He has shared the stage with famous Chilean sopranos Verónica Villarroel and Maribel Villarroel interpreting both classical pieces and pop songs. He has played key roles in several musical plays, like ‘Jack Skellington’ in “Nightmare Before Christmas”, ‘The Wolf’ in “Into the Woods” and ‘Lord Farquaad’ in “Shrek”. He has also personally created, adapted and directed some plays and short movies. In 2021 he took part in the film THE COW WHO SANG A SONG INTO THE FUTURE from the Chilean director Francisca Alegría, and he acted in the teaser trailer for Chilean actor and director Pablo Diaz Del Rio`s new project. He is currently getting ready for the release of his first E.P, which compresses pop/soul songs arranged to other genres, like Jazz and Soft Rock.