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Fuegian Film - Culture And Arts - Chile

In the wilds of Southern Patagonia grew one of the shoots of Chile’s fledgling film industry. Two men played a vital role in this country’s early cinematic days: José Bohr of Punta Arenas and Antonio Radonich of Porvenir.

 

José Bohr was born Yopes Böhr Elzer in Bonn, Germany, in 1901. When he was three years old, his family immigrated to Punta Arenas, Chile. Little is published about Antonio Radonich’s biography. But our story begins with the Radonich family, who opened Tierra del Fuego’s first movie house just after the turn of the 20th century, in Porvenir. As a young lad, José Bohr went with his father to view the new phenomenon called moving pictures, an incident Bohr lovingly, humorously recalls in his story “El biografo llega a Porvenir,” included in Jacqueline Mouesca’s Cuentos de Cine (Santiago: LOM Ediciones, 2003). In 1919 Bohr and Radonich formed Compañía Cinematográfica Magallanes Films, which made actualidades, or documentaries of daily life. One of these was "El desarrollo de un pueblo: Magallanes de ayer y de hoy" (1920) made for the 400th anniversary of the discovery of the Magellan Straits. The movie was shot in Porvenir. The two then parted ways. With Estebán Ivanovich, José Bohr founded Patagonian Films in Punta Arenas (1920), and Antonio Radonich became the mogul of Radonich Films.

 

In 1921 José Bohr moved to Buenos Aires. From there, his career blossomed into being not only a film director and screen writer, but also an actor, composer and singer. He worked extensively in Mexico and Europe. He died in Oslo, Norway, in 1994. Antonio Radonich wilted into obscurity. Porvenir's Museo Provincial Fernando Cordero Rusque has a case dedicated to the early cinematic work of these pioneers (Monday-Thursday 8 a.m.-5 p.m., Friday 8 a.m.-4 p.m., weekends and holidays 10:30 a.m.-1:30 p.m., 3-5 p.m. Zavattaro 402, Tel.: 58-1800, E-mail: museo@municipalidaddeporvenir.cl / museo@muniporvenir.cl). The house where this whole story began continued to show films until about 1945, and still belongs to the Radonich family.

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