Chilean cinema emerged at the turn of the twentieth century, mainly at the initiative of European immigrants who were interested in documenting local events. The first known Chilean film, Un ejercicio general de bomberos ( General Drill of the Fire Brigade ), was shot and screened in the coastal city of Valparaiso in 1902. Celluloid evidence of this and other periods has been lost owing to lack of preservation and, occasionally, active destruction by a hostile government. Similar issues have existed in Argentina, Brazil, and Mexico, but Chile is distinguished from these major filmmaking countries in its chronic difficulty in achieving an industrial scale of production (in spite of the high level of industrialization in other economic sectors); a precocious disposition in favor of international co-productions (dating to the 1940s); an unusually strong preference for realism and feature-length documentary; and the fact that a major portion of Chilean cinema has been produced in exile. However, with the staging of the First International Festival of New Latin American Cinema at Viña del Mar in 1967, Chile became a crucible for that emerging body of film. Chilean cinema must, then, be considered in light of the distinct periods of its development as well as the evolving definition of the "national."

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