Similarities in the differences
Although Argentina is time zones away, Filipinos may see glimpses of themselves in the Argentine people—as showcased in the five movies in the lineup of the Argentine Film Festival, ongoing at Shangri-La Plaza’s Shang Cineplex until Oct. 31.
Roberto Bosch, ambassador of Argentina, made it a point to select films that highlight the diversity of contemporary cinema in his country.
Bosch said there is a booming film movement in Argentina, similar to the indie wave that swept the Philippines in the last decade.
“It’s a good time for the film industry in Argentina,” he told the Inquirer. “Young directors, who have graduated from film schools and universities, are now making their own movies.”
He described the five films in the lineup as “eclectic.”
There’s an award-winning documentary short (Manuel Abramovich’s “La Reina”), a popular animated sports movie (Juan Jose Campanella’s “Metegol”), an Oscar-worthy dramedy (Damian Szifron’s “Relatos Salvajes”), a treasure-hunt/adventure flick (Alejo Moguillansky and Fia-Stina Sandlund’s “El Escarabajo de Oro”) and a complex social satire (Fabian Forte’s “La Corporacion”).
“La Reina,” which follows a young girl as she prepares for her stint as a carnival queen, won prizes at the Karlovy Vary, Los Angeles, Seattle, Fribourg and Abu Dhabi film fests.
The jury of the Los Angeles film fest commended the film’s “unwavering perspective … [as] unique and incredibly effective. A docu with an opinion that avoids didacticism.”
“Relatos Salvajes,” Argentina’s entry in the best foreign language film category of the 2015 Academy Awards, has won 40-plus trophies so far—including several Goyas and Argentina’s Academy Awards. Szifron’s film was also screened at the Cannes Film Festival last year.
New York Times’ Manohla Dargis asserted that “Relatos Salvajes,” or “Wild Tales” as it is known abroad, “offers a scabrous, often unsettlingly funny look at human behavior in extremis. It’s a mad, mad social Darwinian world.”
“La Corporacion” won best actor for Osmar Nuñez at the Argentinean Film Critics Association.
Twitchfilm.com summed up Forte’s film as “an ultra dark satire of corporate culture [that] … spins off into an entirely different and more original direction.”
Based on a story by Edgar Allan Poe, “El Escarabajo de Oro” won best Argentinean film at the Buenos Aires International Independent Film Festival. The Hollywood Reporter’s Jonathan Holland called it “a vibrant, imaginative and sharp-witted mash-up with a healthy disregard for the rules.”
The animated flick “Metegol” was not only a box-office smash; it also won several Goya and Argentine Academy awards and was shown at the San Sebastian fest.
“Metegol,” which is from the same director as the Oscar-winning “The Secret in Their Eyes,” is hailed by Variety’s Jay Weissberg as a “nonstop charmer … geared to kids but just as likely to delight parents.”
The emergence of young filmmakers introduced new ideas to the Argentine film industry, Bosch said.
“New batch of Argentine films often depicted crime and political stories,” he related. “Other young people went on to make exceptional documentaries after graduating from film schools, too.”
Bosch hopes to show some of these Argentine short films and docus to students from the University of the Philippines.
“It’s important to share these films with young people,” he remarked. The achievements of their Argentine contemporaries could possibly inspire young Filipinos to pursue filmmaking as well.
After its screenings at the Shang, the Argentine film fest will move to Baguio, Iloilo, Davao and Zamboanga, with the support of the Film Development Council of the Philippines, which runs cinematheques in the provinces.
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