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Boris Quercia, a jovial and bitter writer, like Chile



Little known outside the borders of Chile, Boris Quercia is, at home, a star. A star of the small and the big screen. His movies Sexo con amor (2003) and El rey de los huevones (2006) left their mark on a whole generation of Chileans. After starting out in the theater in the 1990s, he devoted much of the next decade to the noble activity of making his compatriots laugh, in the vein of post-war Italian comedies. Both actor and director, he liked to make fun of his contemporaries, tenderly, like an Alberto Sordi from the end of the world.

The suffocating shadow of General Pinochet

An Italian grandmother and the suffocating shadow of General Pinochet – Boris Quercia, born in 1966, was 7 years old two weeks before the coup d’état – had led him to work a certain form of lightness… But today , while Chile wonders about the three decades that have just passed since the end of the dictatorship, the actor seems to have a less light heart.

Become an author, he changed register: in 2018 he completed a black trilogy, more noticed in France than in Chile – the second episode, So many dogs (1), was hailed in France with the grand prix for detective literature in 2016. Its unfortunate hero, Santiago Quinones, is a drifting policeman. Badly in his skin, a fortiori in that of a representative of the police, he is consumed by his moods.

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Like Chile? The country of the southern cone is going through a contradictory period: a social crisis at the end of 2019 brought to light the frustrations of the population, but also their hopes and desire for change, which will take shape next month with the election of ‘a constituent assembly.

Irony is never far away

This process delighted Boris Quercia, whom some would have well imagined among the 1,400 candidates for the Constituent Assembly. “In Chile, as in many other countries, there is a rejection of the political class, and I believe that this phenomenon is dangerous, he said. Because how are we going to settle our differences peacefully, if our politicians, whose job it is precisely, are discredited? “

But he understands the bitterness of the voters. “Cases of corruption have plagued all parties, and convictions have been rare and symbolic, he laments. While people were punished for late payments, for small infractions, etc. This is also the fed up with the Chileans. “

Despite his concerns, Boris Quercia, sitting on the edges of the small pool of the family home in Providencia, a district of Santiago, remains in a jovial mood. He speaks Italian – with his hands. And even when he tackles serious subjects, such as the pandemic, which sees entire sections of society plunge back into poverty, further widening inequalities, the irony is never far away: “This situation reminds me of the phrase of the Chilean poet Nicanor Parra: ‘There are two loaves of bread. You eat two. Me none. Average consumption, one loaf per person. ” “

A man of cinema and television

It is here, in this single storey house, that Boris Quercia has set up his offices. Rooms are rented to young musicians, producers and artists, who pass each other in the small courtyard for a coffee or a chat. Under a fig tree, a space has been set up for his wife to do her yoga.

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Having become an author – his next book will be published in France this fall – Boris Quercia remains despite everything first and foremost a man of cinema and television. A few years ago he directed a hit series for Chilean television, Los 80 (“The Eighties”), which recounted the life of a middle-class family during the second decade of the dictatorship. “It was a difficult time, of poverty, of grayness, he remembers. There is a scene that really impressed the audience, where we see the mother repairing worn shoes to give them to a younger child. “

The page of comedy seems resolutely turned. For a future project, still in the works, Boris Quercia is in contact with a journalist who has investigated the theft of children entrusted to other families at birth, practices that began under the dictatorship and have continued under democracy. Decidedly, the movida Andean years of the 1990s, when Chile, freed from the dictator, rediscovered democracy even as the actor was lightly engaging in adult life, is a long time ago …

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