It was twelve years ago today, in November 2001 that, under the title “Argentinean Cinema: A New Beginning,” the 42nd Thessaloniki International Film Festival dedicated an entire segment to what was then known as “Nuevo Cine Argentino.” It was a visionary decision, since the segment brought together the first films by Lucrecia Martel (La ciénaga), Lisandro Alonso (La libertad), Pablo Trapero (Mundo grúa) and Adrián Caetano (Bolivia), among others. For the first time, an international festival had brought together these films and these directors, in order to underscore a movement that was already in full bloom. Today, all those directors are consecrated names in the world of cinema, each with major films to his or her credit.
More than ten years later, the TIFF brings together once again a nucleus of young directors and new films from Argentina. In the time that has elapsed, much has changed. The country went through an unprecedented political, economic and social crisis, from which it has fortunately been able to recover. The National Cinema Law has begun to bear fruit and production has increased, numbering around one hundred feature-length films per year, both fiction and documentary. As has been the case all over the world, digital formats have democratized access to the means for film production. An Argentinian film produced by a big studio won the Academy Award for Best Foreign Language Film (The Secret in Their Eyes, by Juan José Campanella, in 2010). And thus a whole new generation of filmmakers emerged and filled the gap that existed at the time.
As was the case in 2001, the majority of the films selected in 2013 premiered at the Buenos Aires International Film Festival (Bafici), which continues to be the privileged showcase for Argentinian cinema that is determined to take risks and to search for new roads. This year’s selection includes directors who are making their debut, and others who, while still young, can already boast a body of work that has won acclaim in the international festival circuit.
Among the former are locals Jazmín López (Lions) and Leonardo Brzezicki (Night), Salta-born Bárbara Sarasola- Day (Belated) and the natives of Tucumán province Agustín Toscano and Ezequiel Radusky (The Owners). With the exception of The Owners – the first film produced in Tucumán in almost three decades, which came out of a first film competition held at the Instituto Nacional de Cines y Artes Audiovisuales (Incaa) – that combines humor and social criticism, the other films choose a tone that is more grave and introspective. Inner conflicts impose themselves on outer reality, including in Belated, where one notices the old patriarchal structure that is still prevalent in the Argentinian countryside.
For their part, Santiago Loza (La Paz), Marcos Berger (Βoth Loza and Piñeiro – albeit in very different ways – cross the lines between cinema and the theater most freely. Acclaimed in Argentina as a playwright, Loza nonetheless tackles his films in a manner that is very visual and also very laconic. On the other hand, Piñeiro focuses on Shakespeare’s comedies for a project of which Viola is only one part and in which the youth of modern-day Buenos Aires can express itself through the beauty of Elizabethan poetry.
<em "="">Luciano Monteagudo
Film critic for the Argentinean magazine Página/12