The Eyes of the Toad

Crime is rampant in Santiago’s upper neighborhoods, or so the wealthy neighbors of Las Condes and Lo Barnechea think. The municipalities of these neighborhoods feed the paranoia of their inhabitants by installing television surveillance balloons in order to fight crime in their neighborhoods. These state-of-the-art devices can record 24/7, observing everything that happens in the communes and ignoring any type of privacy.

  • Juan Cifuentes Mera
  • Juan Cifuentes Mera
  • Project Title (Original Language):
    Los Ojos del Sapo
  • Project Type:
    Documentary, Experimental, Short, Student
  • Runtime:
    6 minutes 7 seconds
  • Country of Origin:
  • Country of Filming:
  • Language:
  • Shooting Format:
  • Aspect Ratio:
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  • First-time Filmmaker:
  • Student Project:
    Yes - Pontificia Universidad Católica de Chile
  • FECICH 12
    January 22, 2020
    World premiere
    Best Short Film
  • FUC! (Festival Universitario de Cortometrajes)
    March 12, 2020
    Special Jury Mention
  • FIC La Ventana
    February 15, 2020
    Official Selection
  • Lima Alterna Festival Internacional De Cine
    International Premiere
    Official Selection
  • Festival de Cine UC
    September 9, 2020
    Selección DAV UC
  • Corriente Encuentro Latinoamericano De Cine De No Ficción
    November 12, 2020
    Selección Miradas en Crisis
    Vitacura, Santiago
    October 19, 2020
    Official Selection

    October 15, 2020
    Spanish Premiere
    Official Selection
  • Docu Film León
    León, Guanajuato
    June 17, 2021
    Mexican Premiere
    Official Selection
  • Cinemancia
    Colombian Premiere
    Official Selection
Director Biography - Juan Cifuentes Mera

Born in Santiago, Chile, Juan Cifuentes Mera is studying filmmaking at Pontificia Universidad Católica de Chile and set to graduate in late 2021. He’s worked in other student’s short films as a gaffer, electric and assistant director. “The Eyes of the Toad” is his first work, a student short film that began filming in late 2018 and has been selected in Chilean festivals like FUC (Festival Universitario de Cortometrajes) or FECICH, where it won the award for best short film in his world premiere. Since October 18, 2019, the day social protests erupted in Chile, he’s worked in several projects that take different approaches for looking at the social movement, from documentary and photography to animations. As a film student he’s interested in exploring new ways of telling stories and experimenting with new technologies, always maintaining a critical and social view in his past and future projects.

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Director Statement

“The Eyes of the Toad” is born as my first short film in university. I was drawn to make a film with a social theme that talked about the upper-class neighborhoods in Santiago, places that contrast with the majority of Chile and reminds us of the huge inequality problem in the country. The upper-class who lives in these neighborhoods have a fear of lower-class people, who they often associate with criminals. Local mayors respond to this fear with surveillance cameras, drones and even Israeli surveillance balloons, the same ones used at Gaza by Israel armed forces.

I want to transmit the paranoia and social discrimination that is so present in the wealthiest part of Chile. Rich people living with fear, protecting their houses and neighborhoods from people they think don’t belong there, but as we see all the paranoia is really unfounded as nothing really happens. The film also takes a new meaning in Chile's today's context, which was unimaginable when I started filming in late 2018. Since October 18, 2019, protests have erupted in Chile demanding better life quality, but the governments response is repression against the people. This short film is proof that this repression has been present for years, with politicians spending money in surveillance systems to control and watch people, instead of focusing on the real social problems which ultimately led to the eruption of the social movement in the country.