As part of the celebration of its 10th Anniversary, the Vancouver Latin American Film Festival is happy to announce a Spotlight on Argentine Cinema, with a showcase of new directors, a retrospective and an homage to the National Film School. To commemorate this special program, we asked the Buenos Aires-based film critic Natalia Barrenha to write an article illuminating the recent history of the great Argentine cinema that we now all enjoy.
In November 1994, the Cinema Law was approved. The National Institute of Film and Audiovisual Arts (INCAA) obtained financial autonomy and was able to expand its funding base. The new exchange rate (1 peso = 1 dollar) contributed to a technological regeneration and the infrastructure of the film schools began to strengthen. All these factors, combined with the support of new productions through loans, grants, contests and action plans, led to an immediate reactivation and unprecedented dynamism in the field.
The shorts contest Brief Stories (Historias Breves) in 1995 inaugurated the activity of filmmaking for many directors and was the starting point for the ‘so-called’ New Argentine Cinema. At the same time, enthusiastic critical reviews in support of the new filmmakers played an important role in the strengthening of productions. The creation of the Buenos Aires Festival of International Independent Cinema (BAFICI) in 1999 as a platform to launch cutting-edge films was another pillar of the New Cinema.
This regeneration was intimately related to the word ‘independent.’ Previously, the making of a movie was reliant on the securing of funding— in the New Cinema, films were created with the minimum requirements: shooting on weekends, not worrying about the format, using natural sets and recruiting unknown or non-professional actors. The lack of a polished professionalism was strategic and became an aesthetic attribute.
Almost two decades after this awakening, the pioneers of this innovation such as Lucrecia Martel, Daniel Burman, Pablo Trapero, Lisandro Alonso, among many others, continue to draw attention to their films, while at the same time making room for new generations.
The industry of film production has also undergone a revival with a new generation of producers signing on to new projects and innovating the ways of producing. The alternative circuits are brimming with new films, and this country that produces on average 100 films per year now fights a revolution in terms of distribution and exhibition, obstacles that prevent many Argentine films from making it out into the public sphere.
VLAFF 2012 will showcase a trajectory of Argentine contemporary cinema through a retrospective of the work of the screenwriter Andrés Duprat, an influential figure in the national cinema industry in recent years. We will also present a program of short films from the National School of Experimentation and Cinematographic Production (ENERC), birthplace of many acclaimed filmmakers and emerging talents who are part of a culture of filmmaking that constantly surprises.
(Published in June 12, 2012 in Vancouver Latin American Film Festival website)