You Will Never Be Alone (film) debuts in US this weekend

Chilean musician Alex Anwandter's debut film "Nunca Vas A Estar Solo (You Will Never Be Alone) is a profound exploration of homophobic violence with a deeply engaging young hero. 

Anwandter is a well-regarded musician who turned to film after he was impacted by the highly publicized murder of Daniel Zamudio, a young gay man in Chile. Zamudio's murder galvanized Chile and eventually led to passage of national hate crimes legislation. 

Zamudio, it turns out, was a fan of Anwandter's music, and he attended the young man's funeral. When Zamudio's family members met Anwandter and thanked him for talking about LGBT issues in public, Anwandter realized he had to do more to spark conversations and change in his native country and globally

The film presents us with the life of a young, gay boy and his father in the time before, during and after a brutal, homophobic attack. 

Anwandter had long been a fan of film particularly Fassbinder's naturalistic approach, but he knew that whatever story he told had to be grounded in his understanding of the political and cultural environment in Chile after the dictatorship and the context that provided for the particular story he chose to tell. It was going to be "shot in Chile, using Chilean idioms" even though "it can be understood outside of Chile." 

Turning to his new art form he found a respect and appreciation and kinship with the actors that helped him direct them drawing on his own understanding of performance as a musician. Popular both in and outside his country, Anwandter is known for mixing thoughtful socially conscious lyrics with driving dance beats. His thoughtfulness continued in his casting process; he turned to known Chilean veteran actors for many roles, but knew that he had to find fresh voices for the young lead. Out of 2,000 youth, he chose Andrew Bangsted and was not diasppointed.

"Andrew was a revelation to me, super sensitive, very intelligent. Although this was his first film by day two he was a natural camera actor." 

The role is quite challenging. In the film we get to enter Pablo's complex, funny, sweet, engaging and dangerous world. He sings, laughs with his best friend and has an intense, troubled relationship with a local youth. Throughout his father is disconnected from him. Not until the attack, does the father come to terms with who his son is and how his country has failed to protect him and what, if anything, he can do now to help him survive. 

Anwandter wanted to make sure the audience sat with the discomfort of the attack. He wanted to show how much effort it takes to "punish or end someone's life." His goal was not to be gory but to show the effort, to take the time with the scene so as to really to make the audience feel the impact of this violence and the hatred behind it. Otherwise, he says, audiences can minimize, forget or not really come to terms with human beings do to other human beings in this kind of attack and how a society contributes to it. 

He hopes the film will be a vehicle of reflection both in and outside of Chile.

Although his parents have always been supportive, Anwandter notes that even when you have family acceptance you could still go out on the street and be attacked. There has to be a strong message from the government in support of human rights, he says, in order to dismantle the violence in the culture, the micro-aggressions, the lack of protections, the lack of explicit rights and the physical violence. 

He is hopeful though that these issues can be confronted and resolved and this shows up in the film in the refreshing scenes between Pablo and his best friend Mari. Anwandter feels young people are more aware, more free and demand more justice from the world. He notices this in Chile and throughout Latin America in the generations born after dictatorships.

Anwandter also continues with music. He recently released his new album titled "Amiga" which he says puts himself out there more than he has in the past. The phrase he used in Spanish was very Chilean "poner el pecho a las balas"-literally put your chest out in front of the bullets. It is number one on iTunes and is on the Billboard Top 20.

The film premiered in Berlin and will have its US Premier at the Seattle Film Fest this weekend. Anwandter is eager to show the film in Chile to see what discussions it will provoke.

You can learn more about Alex Anwandter's music by watching his new video below: