An Alternate History of Argentine Film

Every history of an art implies fresh illumination more than a new point of view. This ‘alternate history’ of Argentine film does not present celebrated films, the quality of which is unquestionable. Soffici’s Prisioneros de la tierra or Favio’s El romance del Aniceto y la Francisca are not what we would call a discovery. This selection brings to the foreground works unknown outside their country of origin and sometimes even unknown to idle commentators in the field. Marginal films that capture a feeling of the times or the different shades of a personality. Movies that never aspired to make national film history but that will spark the curiosity of cinephiles eager to venture off the beaten path. Here there are no politics or folklore. As is often the case, when Big Issues are not the focus they appear with unexpected eloquence that sheds light on a society like Argentina torn between ambitious cosmopolitism and a certain pride about its isolation.
The most recent work of the selected films was made in 1976, the ominous date the civic-military dictatorship took over in the midst of a general state of social anarchy that had been going on for several years. More than efforts of democracy, the disastrous Falklands War brought it to an end in 1983, an endeavor the armed forces believed would have legitimized their position and kept them in power forever, relying irrational effects of patriotism.
The cinema of the ‘return to democracy’ (which I prefer to call ‘return to an electoral system’) appears dull, ruled by the narrative format of television shows. It took countless disappointments, countless social and political conflicts so that a young generation and the rejuvenation of a not as young one could produce films that were not shackled to the dictates of the industry, challenging conventions and figures. We can discern from within an overproduction of films that are often botched a dozen filmmakers without any connection to a group or movement who have made movies that were once inconceivable for Argentine cinema.
But that would be yet another ‘alternate history’…

Edgardo Cozarinsky