Sanfic: Ukraine Drama ‘Klondike’ Snags Top Honors

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After its debut at  Sundance in January, where it earned the World Cinema Dramatic Competition award for directing, Ukrainian wartime drama “Klondike” nabbed top honors for best international film at the Chile’s 18th Santiago International Film Festival (Sanfic).

“Klondike,” written, directed and edited by Ukrainian filmmaker Marina Er Gorbach (“Omar and Us”), tells the story of expectant couple Irina and Anatoly who live in the village of Grabove, near the Russia-Ukraine border during the high conflict that coincides with downed Malaysia Airlines Flight 17. The couple faces devastation up-close as Irina refuses to relocate, even as troops close in.

Best director went to Chile’s Roberto Baeza for his documentary effort “Punto de Encuentro,” a gripping portrait of filmmakers striving to recreate the story of their fathers, tortured and imprisoned under the dictatorship.

Tyler Taormina (“Ham On Rye”) feature “Happer’s Comet,” which examines alienation by focusing on characters from his Long Island hometown, and the entire cast of societal Lebanese drama “Costa Brava, Lebanon” received special mentions at Saturday night’s award ceremony.

Oleksandr Yatsentyuk secured best performer for his role in Dmytro Sukholytkyy-Sobchuk’s “Pamfir,” where he plays the title character tasked with providing for his family amidst the town’s vast corruption.

In the Chilean cinema category, best picture honors went to Sebastian Kohan’s, Inti-Cordera-backed, “Villa Olímpica,” a documentary that follows children of the Pinochet diaspora after they’ve left the Mexican town they called home to return to Chile.

Best director went to Costa Rica’s Felipe Zuñiga (“San Jose de Noche”) for “La Picada,” a documentary that tracks the last inhabitant of a town desecrated by volcanic eruptions as she yearns to keep her daily routine despite increasing pressure to relocate.

Argentina’s Mara Bestelli (“Rojo”) scooped best performance for her role as Greta in Ivan Fund’s grief-soaked, fantastical feature “Piedra Noche.”

In the National Talent Short Film Competition Katherina Harder’s  somber coming-of-age tale“Estrellas del Desierto” and Alejandra Andino’s look at loss, “Mañana Pasado,” shared top film honors with special mentions going to Chilean director Pablo Cuturrufo for his animated peek at virtual reality “The Phantom Touch” and to beloved Chilean actor Louis “Tato” Dubó for his performance in short films “Tormenta,” “Toque,” “Redención,” and “Aparecides.”

Homing-in on films with distinct aesthetics and broadly relatable themes, Sanfic brought internationally acclaimed buzz titles and emerging talents together to highlight the diverse landscape that is independent cinema.

“What the films that I chose this year have in common is a marked auteurist look, of high artistic quality and themes that connect with the audiences,” said Carlos Nuñez, Sanfic founder and artistic director.

Another hybrid event year, the fest made accessibility a built-in feature, continuing the pandemic-era push towards inclusivity for audiences and industry alike.

“The festival continues to evolve in search of a plurality of approaches that includes prestigious directors and young talents not only from Chile but from all over the world,” Nuñez added.



Best Film

“Klondike,” (Maryna Er Gorbach, Ukraine, Turkey)

Best Acting

Oleksandr Yatsentyuk, “Pamfir” (Ukraine)

Special Mention

Ensemble cast of “Costa Brava, Lebanon” (Lebanon)

Best Director

Roberto Baeza, “Punto de Encuentro” (Chile)

Special Mention

Tyler Taormina, “Happer’s Comet” (U.S.)


Best Film

“Villa Olímpica,” (Sebastián Kohan, Chile, Mexico)

Best Acting 

Mara Bestelli, “Piedra Noche” (Argentina)

Best Director

Felipe Zuñiga, “La Picada” (Costa Rica)


Best Short Film (ex aequo)

“Estrellas del Desierto,” (Katherina Harder, Chile)

“Mañana Pasado,” (Alejandra Andino, Chile)

Best Director (special mention)

“The Phantom Touch,” (Pablo Cuturrufo, Chile)

Best Acting (special mention)

Luis Dubó, “Tormenta,” “Toque,” “Redención” and “Aparecides” (Chile)

Sanfic: Ukraine Drama ‘Klondike’ Snags Top Honors

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