Felipe Gálvez’s The Settlers has carved a strong path: the western nabbed a MUBI acquisition on the heels of its Cannes premiere, earned Un Certain Regard’s FIPRESCI prize, and is now Chile’s official Oscar submission for Best International Feature. Ahead of its January 12 opening at New York’s IFC Center and LA’s Laemmle Royal, there is a trailer.

All of which would mean little if the film weren’t any good. But as Jordan Raup said in his review, “Gálvez has such a grasp on visual storytelling that The Settlers could work just as well playing silent; a shot of bloodied hands being washed after battle––a plea for underserved sanctifying redemption––strikes a nerve more than any dialogue in the script. With a well-executed time jump in his last chapter, the director explores excuses of the upper class (e.g. religion as a concealing mask) in the name of colonialism. In a brilliant coda, Gálvez returns to the perspective of those that built this land. It’s an ending on a minor but willful act of defiance, indicating the tides of change are often not defined by colossal, radical events, but in resisting within everyday bounds to ensure survival.”

Find preview and poster below:

At the turn of the 20th century, three horsemen embark on an expedition across the Tierra del Fuego archipelago at the behest of a wealthy landowner, tasked with securing his vast state-appointed property. Accompanying a reckless British lieutenant and an American mercenary is mestizo marksman Segundo, who comes to realize, amidst rising tensions within the group, their true mission is to murderously “remove” the indigenous population.

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