Self-taught Chilean animator Hugo Covarrubias’ Oscar-nominated short Bestia is now available online.
Bestia is a disturbing stop-motion portrait of Ingrid Olderöck, known in Chile as “Woman of the Dogs,” who served in the country’s national law enforcement agency Carabineros de Chile during the brutal dictatorship of Agosto Pinochet.
In real life, Olderöck was tasked with interrogating women suspects and prisoners, often using dogs to torture the subjects. In the fictionalized version of her story in Bestia, the woman develops an unsettling relationship with one of the dogs under her care.
Bestia’s Olderöck puppet is a shiny, porcelain doll figure whose glossy veneer makes her all the more off-putting when contrasted with the almost stuffed animal-looking dog she uses for her depraved work. The film has no dialogue, no music, and its minimalist sound effects serve to enhance the sense of immersion and disquiet felt by the viewer.
Bestia was one of 2021-2022’s best-regarded animated shorts and, in addition to its Oscar nomination, won best animated short at the Annies, the Festivals Connexion Award at Annecy, best animation in Clermont-Ferrand’s international competition, the audience award at SXSW, the grand prix at Stuttgart, the Golden Firebird for best short at Hong Kong, best Latin American short at Chilemonos, best short at Guadalajara, best international short at Bucheon, best animation at the Berlinale, bests animated short at Tallinn Black Nights, and many more prizes during its festival run.
The film is produced by Trébol 3 Producciones and Maleza Estudio and was animated by Covarrubias and Matías Delgado. Covarrubias co-wrote the screenplay with Martín Erazo.