Celebrating Three Generations of Argentinean Cinema

Cineteca Nacional is celebrating the works of Chile’s neighbors to the east this month with a festival of Argentinean cinema, showing movies every evening until May 31.

 El exilio de Gardel (1986)
El exilio de Gardel (1986)

Argentinean cinema is something of connoisseur trade. Recent movies like Bombón El Perro (2004), the incredible story of a friendship between an unemployed man and a dog in Patagonia, have met international success, yet most of the cinematic production of the country remains both unknown and underestimated. Tres Generaciones de Cine Argentino gives the chance to fill this void with a program covering three generations of Argentinean cinema.

The cinema production of the 1960s and 1970s in Argentina is represented by four movies in the festival. Each draws a very vivid, unique picture of a country facing modernity, industrialism, the rise of the military and the growing presence of American investors in the region. Leonardo Favio’s El Romance del Aniceto y la Francisca (1966) pictures a love story in the heart of rural Argentina while El Santo de la Espada (1970) retraces the story of General Saint Martin, a national hero during the country’s rise to independence.

 La Patagonia Rebelde (1974)
La Patagonia Rebelde (1974)

The film that opened the festival on May 16 was La Patagonia Rebelde (1974), the story of a syndicate of land workers in Santa Cruz who rise against the abuses of the landowners, only to be cruelly crushed by the military contingent sent from Buenos Aires. La Patagonia Rebelde is an adaptation of the novel by Osvaldo Bayer, a revered Argentinean Communist author. The Patagonian landscape and the thirst for justice and equality that animate these uneducated men make for a very powerful movie, foretelling the dramatic fate that awaited Socialist idealism in Argentina amid the rise of the military to power and its economic plan to turn the country into a free-market economy.

The festival also pays tribute to Argentinean filmmakers who, after the fall of the military government in 1984, looked retrospectively at the political and human rights abuses of the dictatorship. La Historia Oficial (1985) retraces the story of a woman who starts digging into the past when she realizes that her adoptive daughter may have been the child of disappeared political activists. Meanwhile, El Exilio de Gardel (1986) follows a group of tango musicians trying to survive while living in exile in Paris.

 El Perro (2004)
El Perro (2004)

In 1990, a new movement appeared in the Argentinean film landscape. Known as Nuevo Cine Argentino, it emphasizes independent production, intimate scenes and absurd humor. The festival’s program includes six recent movies produced between 1990 and 2010, including the excellent Mundo Grúa (1999) by Pablo Trapero and Lucrecia Martel’s La Ciénaga (2000), the only film of the festival directed by a woman and the recipient of the First Prize at the Berlin Film Festival in 2001.

Moreover, for those who still have not seen it, the festival will also feature El Perro on May 30. Be warned: this film has made even the toughest shed a few tears.

The full program and synopsis of each film is available on Centro de la Moneda’s website. For a quiniento (CP$500; US$1), watching a quality Argentinean movie is, for a fortnight, cheaper than a cortado. But hurry up: the festival closes May 31 with a showing of Todos mienten (2009) by Matías Piñeiro.

Tres Generaciones de Cine Argentino
May 16 to 31, 2011
7 pm nightly
Cineteca Nacional
Centro Cultural de la Moneda, 2nd floor
Plaza de la Ciudadanía 26
Metro: Moneda

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