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August 22, 2014
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The home front delivers strong contenders

Actresses Paula Hertzog (left) and Paola Barrientos in a scene from Ciencias Naturales.
By Pablo Suárez
For the Herald

Novel and established directors show their works in BAFICI’s Argentine Competition

The vast realm of contemporary Argentine cinema is now open for exploration and discovery once again at the Argentine Competition of this year’s BAFICI, which comprises 15 features from both novel and established directors. With different sets of aesthetics, all these features focus on a variety of themes as seen by auteur filmmakers who dare take new steps as they sing their own songs.

Si je suis perdu, c’est pas grave (It’s Alright If I’m Lost). Award-winning director Santiago Loza (Extraño, Los labios, La paz) now places its acute gaze on the many facets of a one-month acting workshop in a unknown city in France. Screen tests, meetings, workshop activities, conversations, and performances make up a rich canvas with subtle nuances and warm observations. Expect an enticing, sometimes absorbing reflection on what makes these thespians be who they are. There’s more than first meets the eye, that’s for sure.

Ciencias naturales (Natural Sciences). Recently awarded at the Berlin Film Festival, Matías Lucchesi’s debut film follows Lila, a 12-year-old student at a boarding school in the province of Córdoba who, together with her teacher, embarks on road movie of the heart to learn who her father is, even if he couldn’t care less. Way alluring performances, fine directing, and an assured sense of narrative shape up a tale that hides unexpected layers behind apparent plainness.

Carta a un padre. Accompanied by passports, maps, letters, and postcards, seasoned writer / filmmaker Edgardo Cozarinsky travels to Entre Ríos to draw a picture of Jewish immigration of late 19th century while also searching for his own roots. Chamamé, the port of Odessa, museums that once were hotels, and an omniscient father figure... all of them pieces of a puzzle that struggles not to be solved.

El rostro (The Face). The new work by the gifted Gustavo Fontán (El árbol, La madre, La casa) concerns a man sailing alone on the Parana River. That is until he reaches an island and shares some time with his father, a woman, and some kids. And nature itself, the lead character in all its blossoming. Shot in Super 8, 16 mm, and video, El rostro is a beautifully refined, melancholic sensorial experience that successfully defies the boundaries of narrative cinema; a poetic meditation on moods, longings and absences.

Necrofobia en 3D (Necrophobia in 3D). Daniel de la Vega’s psychological horror feature bears traits of both Italian giallos, the work of David Lynch, and Frank Henelotter’s Basket Case (what a combination!) as it spins the tale of Dante, his twin brother lying in a casket, a series of murders, and unusual suspects. A maddening tour de force across the realm of a very sinister kind of horror, as was to be expected from the director of the gripping Hermanos de sangre.

Réimon. Just like he did in the most accomplished El custodio, Rodrigo Moreno once again goes for a documentary-like style approach to a character’s quotidian life. He exhaustively observes Réimon, a maid working in the home of an intellectual, snobbish middle-upper class couple keen on reading Capital. As Moreno insightfully contrasts the employer’s well intended interpretation of Marx’s text with the contradictory manner they treat their maid, new ideas are brought about for your consideration as privileged witnesses to a mechanic routine.

Historia del miedo (History of Fear). It’s New Year’s Eve and the lights go out in a guarded community next to some vacant lots. Its inhabitants’ reactions range from truly incongruous to downright dramatic, and as many edgy situations develop, a common feeling engulfs them all: primal, elementary fear. Benjamín Naisthat’s debut film astutely leaves realism aside, and instead favours an expressive formalism to render a string of scenes where characters are left to face not only their own fears, but most important, the fear of what Others may do to them now that darkness has come.

El último verano (The Last Summer). A boy and a girl reunite at a friend’s party after some years. She’s just broke up with her boyfriend, so it makes sense He tries to hook her up. They converse about past times, where time has gone, the importance of idle time, and the need for romance. Music, cigarettes and booze round up the romantic, yet slightly gloomy scene — think that a love affair might take place. Shot in moody black and white, Leandro Naranjo’s first film goes for the intimacy of feelings and words in a very unpretentious, most alluring fashion. No wonder it feels so real, so recognizable.

Tres D (Three D). Shot during the Cosquín Independent Film Festival, Tres D by Rosendo Ruiz is a movie about movies a film festivals —why they exist, what they are for, what is cinema? Most significant answers are given by filmmakers José Celestino Campusano, Nicolás Prividera and Gustavo Fontán, among others. But there’s more: a fictional side, meaning the sentimental liaison between a guy and a girl, who play the film crew that makes the film about the film festival. An unusual, refreshing take at a well known theme: cinema within cinema.

The rest of the selection includes 13 puertas (13 Doors), by David Rubio; Atlántida (Inés María Barrionuevo); El escarabajo de oro (The Gold Bug), by Alejandro Moguillansky and Fia-stina Sandlund; Juana a las 12 (About Twelve), by Martin Shanly; Mientras estoy cantando (While I’m Singing), by Julian Montero Ciancio; and Una canción coreana (Korean Song), by Gustavo Tarrío - Yael Tujsnaider.

@pablsuarez

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