Winter is finally sinking its fangs in, but citizens come warm yourselves in some Argentine sunshine this week as Hackney plays host to some of South America’s hottest cinema.
The Argentine Film Festival, now in its third year, returns to London from 27–30 November, with screenings at Hackney Picturehouse and at Brixton Ritzy, kicking off with black comedy Relatos Salvajes (Wild Tales) this Thursday.
A hit at Cannes a couple of months ago, the film is produced by the Almodóvar brothers and directed by Damian Szifron, already selling two million tickets back in Argentina and sure to get the festival off with a bang.
Movies & Malbec
Meanwhile, for those of you familiar with some the country’s more widely-known exports such as Malbec and Tango (or anyone that needs an extra incentive for watching sub-titles), this year will see a dedicated wine hub set up shop at the Gallery Bar in the Hackney Picturehouse.
It sounds like Punto Argento will be the perfect place to rendezvous to talk about the films, with the Tango Light troupe performing between screenings for a real taste of Argentine culture. “We’re delighted to be back for our third edition with a knock-out programme that includes three of Argentina’s highest-grossing films from the last 18 months, as well as some amazing gems from the international festival circuit and some unique documentaries,” says the festival’s director, Sofia Serbin de Skalon.
El Cine Argentino
The fact that we can now go to a festival of Argentine films at all is of course, in itself, notable. Forty years ago the country’s movie industry was still muzzled by a paranoid military junta, which chased some of the most promising filmmakers of a generation underground or into exile.
When democracy returned to the country in the 1980s films like La historia oficial, which deals with the horrors of the regime, received critical acclaim, but like many foreign-language films at the time did not gain mainstream traction outside of Latin America. However, there’s no doubt films from this region are beginning to resonate with international audiences, with high-profile movies such a Walter Salles’ Motorcycle Diaries (2004) and Fernando Meirelles’ City of God (2002) helping pave the way for Spanish language movies in non-Spanish speaking countries.
The Oscar win for El secreto de sus ojos (The Secret in their Eyes) in 2010, however, can be seen as a significant inflection point for Argentine cinema, with Hollywood shining a spotlight on the country’s rich film heritage. It was by no means the country’s first big prize, but its surprise box office success did much to win over new audiences.
Over the weekend you’ll have the chance to see 10 contemporary films from and about Argentina. As ever, there’s a rich sweep of styles and genres, from Death In Buenos Aires about a detective solving a 1980s high society homicide in the country’s shaky first steps of democracy to Cerro Torre, which explores the ethics of mountaineering and the ascent of Patagonia’s most-dangerous mountain.
Also not to be missed is the Nuevos Talentos section, where you can watch seven short films from some of the country’s most-promising young directors. This is well worth checking out for a flavour of the sharpest talent in Argentina right now, with films exploring everything from Argentina becoming a safe haven for Nazis after WWII to beauty queens.
Argentine Film Festival is at Hackney Picturehouse and Brixton Ritzy from 27–30 November.