Malena Szlam
Argentina / Chile / Montreal

In 2020, Cecilia Araneda spoke with Malena Szlam as part of a multi-year curatorial research project on Latin Canadian cinema. This is a brief extract of her research.

Born in Chile to Argentinian parents, visual artist and filmmaker Malena Szlam has been based in Montreal since 2006. Working at the intersection of cinema, installation, and performance, her practice explores the relationship between the natural world, perception, and intuitive process. The poetics developed through her time-based works engage the material and affective dimensions of analogue film practice. Szlam’s work has been featured in numerous international showcases, including the International Film Festival Rotterdam, TIFF’s Wavelengths, the New Directors/New Films (MoMA, Lincoln Center), the Edinburgh International Festival, International Short Film Festival Oberhausen, Melbourne International Film Festival, Jeonju International Film Festival, the Museo de Arte Moderno de Buenos Aires, the Henie Onstad Kunstsenter (Norway), and the Louisiana Museum of Modern Art (Denmark). Solo screenings have been presented at Los Angeles Filmforum, San Francisco Cinematheque, and FICValdivia (Chile). Szlam is a member of the renowned Montreal-based Double Negative Collective, dedicated to the production and exhibition of experimental cinema.

Research Notes

Born in 1979 in Santiago, Chile, Malena Szlam comes from a nomadic family. Her parents were originally from Buenos Aires but moved to Chile when her father commenced working for the Chilean state broadcaster after the election of Salvador Allende as president. After the coup d’état that deposed of Allende and ushered in a neoliberal dictatorship, the family remained in Chile, with her father moving to work in the TV commercial industry.

Szlam studied visual art at ARCIS university in Santiago in the early post dictatorship era, focusing on sculpture and photography. In 2006, moved to Montreal to pursue an MFA in film production at Concordia University, following after her father who had already previously immigrated there. Initially, Szlam had not planned to stay in Montreal, but circumstances changed, though she does continue to periodically live in Santiago.

Szlam’s body of work in film is distinguished for being all film-based, and almost all silent (with the exception of mechanical sound) and focused on in-camera editing, with no post production editing or interventions, be it digital or analogue. Her filmmaking practice is highly influenced by her origins as a photographer and was a direct translation of the working methodologies of photography. More recently, Szlam has started to explore post production and sound work, as reflected in her film ALTIPLANO (2018).

Szlam’s work in film is highly conceptual and considers how the camera can mediate the experience of seeing a landscape for the first time. Landscapes are of particular interest to Szlam, for the unrevealed histories they contain. In as much as Szlam’s filmmaking work is influenced by her background as a photographer, it is also influenced by her background as a sculptor: “You make a decision, and then it’s done.”


  • Chronogram of Inexistent Time — 6 mins, digital file, silent, 2008 
  • Beneath your Skin of Deep Hollow — 4 mins, 16mm, silent, 2010
  • Rhythm Trail — 10 mins, digital or S8, silent, 2011
  • Anagrams of Light — 3 mins, digital or S8, silent, 2011 
  • Lunar Almanac — 4 mins, 16 mm, silent, 2013
  • Morphology of a Dream — 6 mins, 16 mm, silent, 2018 
  • ALTIPLANO —  16 mins, 35 mm, silent, 2018
  • MERAPI —  8 mins, digital, silent, 2022

Some of Szlam’s works can be found on her Vimeo page

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