In this curated selection of films from Latin America's southernmost nation, we explore the sights, sites, and sounds of the country's rural and urban spaces through unconventional cinematic explorations.
With arguably the richest cinematic history of any South American country besides Brazil, contemporary Argentinian cinema has long had to shoulder a considerable weight of expectation. Yet in recent years, the country's cinema has excelled in its formal innovations, and remains as startling and as rigorous as ever. Those familiar with recent trends in the country's filmic output are doubtless aware of the broad canvas upon which Argentinian filmmakers twist their brushes, spatter their paint, or flick their knife, needling both national and international audiences alike into pondering basic cinematic forms in another light.
It is against this backdrop that we present a program containing some of the gems of recent Argentinian cinema. These are movies that individually chart paths through the thicket of wildly varied documentary forms: observational, essayistic, poetic, prosaic, or character-driven, to cite a few. Their own diversity speaks to a greater diversity within the entire national cinema. We are offering a taste of the plurality of this place and this cinema. Its makers joyfully devour other artforms and bend their energies towards the cinema, as in the exceptional case of the great Julián d'Angiolillo, who is not merely one of the most gifted Argentinian cineastes but widely beloved for his sketches and for his work as a writer.
It is precisely these kinds of extracinematic artistic currents that flow naturally and ceaselessly into the far-reaching basin of Argentinian cinema, making it one of the most nourishing to dive into. The sites and sounds this selection uncovers and throws a spotlight onto are informed both by these cultural traditions as well as the checkered recent history of the country, which was under brutal military control from 1976 to 1983. The scars from this dictatorship run deep in Argentina, with the terror rained upon dissidents formatively shaping the public consciousness. It is a central facet of the national character that these filmmakers understand to their bones.
In this light, they approach aspects of modern life, like the ways of life in rural areas and the vicissitudes of poverty across the country. Theirs are investigations deeply embedded within historical contexts, though accessible to an outside viewer. Argentina, in other words, is itself a vital melting pot for the kinds of concerns that ought to mark us all. Taking the time to pay attention to its multifaceted cinematic tradition - and its filmmakers young and old - gives us a chance to contemplate the places and the people, the lives and the loves, the sites and the sounds of this place with all the humanity and complexity art can muster.
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