Last summer in Mar del Plata [Chicago Reader blog post, 2007]

Late summer in Mar del Plata

Posted By on 03.13.07 at 11:55 AM

It’s only when I stopped to count that I realized that this is my seventh trip to Argentina in eight years, something that started when the Buenos Aires branch of FIPRESCI, the international film critics organization, brought me there to give three lectures in the fall of 2000. The couple who became my host and hostess–critics Quintin and Flavia de la Fuentes, both of whom wrote for the monthly film magazine El Amante and would later review some films at the Chicago International Film Festival for the Reader–invited me back after Quintin became director of BAFICI, the Buenos Aires Festival of Independent Film, a remarkable event sponsored by the city every April. Quintin held the job for four years, and to my knowledge it was the only festival to be organized socially as well as intellectually around the principles of film criticism. Much of the programming centered on critical concepts, and a central meeting point — a cafe inside a huge shopping mall — served as the hub of discussions.

The event was also made delightful by certain unique forms of Argentinian hospitality, which are also evident at the Mar del Plata Film Festival: each guest is assigned an “angel,” a young person assigned to serve as overall guide and assistant, procuring tickets and taking one around to the various cinemas, etc. A little more than a year after Quintin’s lamentable departure from BAFICI, I was invited to Mar del Plata, which has been around (with a few interruptions) since the 50s. This year I’ve been invited back by Quintin to speak at a symposium panel titled “Cinema of Tomorrow.” I’ll be joined there by five colleagues: Alvaro Arroba (Spain), Emmanuel Burdeau (France), Cristina Nord (Germany), Mark Peranson (Canada), and Peter van Bueren (Netherlands).

Mar del Plata is a large resort and retirement community on the southern coast of Argentina. Currently it’s late summer here, and though changing money is tedious — I had to walk about 20 blocks and then sign numerous documents — it’s a delightful place and festival. My first order of business yesterday, for instance, was attending a master class given by U.S. director Charles Burnett, the focus of a retrospective here. (Burnett’s films are also being showcased as part of the African-American Auteurs series at the Gene Siskel Film Center this month. To Sleep With Anger, his 1990 feature starring Danny Glover, screens tonight at 6 PM.) Burnett mainly showed clips from and discussed his current film, “Nujoma: Where Others Wavered,” a period film set in Namibia, where he’s been filming the last couple years or so; Glover and Carl Lumbly star. It seems regrettable but characteristic that one often has to go another country to find out about such a project.

Tags: , , , African-American Auteurs series

Comments (9)

Showing 1-9 of 9

A small note: The magazine mentioned at the start of this entry is named “El Amante”; their (Spanish language) website is
Posted by Ray Pride on 03/13/2007 at 2:53 PM

I would like to read an entry about your view on the simposium, and compare it with the Quintin’s, or Arroba’s on their blogs. I’ve been in Mar del Plata during the weekend watching a few films. BTW It is not Arraba , it is Arroba, and Van Bueren’s surname is also wrong.
Posted by boudu on 03/13/2007 at 4:11 PM

Thanks for the corrections, all three of which have been made by now. I don´t really have much spare time for blogging, which was partly the reason for the typos. In any case, the first day of the symposium, presentations by Peter and Mark, was really invigorating, Peter did a wonderfully acerbic analysis of how good films at festivals tend to get lost in the program booklets, while Mark did an equally informative lecture about how festivals work in general, including the diabolical role played by sales agents in recent years.

Posted by Jonathan R. on 03/13/2007 at 6:33 PM

gosh Jonathan, I didn’t know that you had a blog, thanks Flavia for the link! And boudou, where did you read that? I also didn’t know that I myself had a blog! 😉 Brilliant talks this afternoon, and Burdeau was really something!! abrazos a Jonathan y boudou

Posted by Arroba on 03/14/2007 at 7:54 PM

And as far as I know, Quintín doesn’t have any blog either… or does he? Jonathan: Are you planning to stay here (in Argentina) for this year’s BAFICI? I hope so. If you do, bring Burnett’s films with you. I’ve been reading plenty of flattering comments and articles on his works from you and I’m eager to discover them.

Posted by Julián on 03/15/2007 at 4:52 AM

Quintín does have a blog finally.

Posted by Julián on 03/15/2007 at 5:17 AM

Actually, you don’t have to go to another country to learn about that Burnett project, which I’m highly awaiting a chance to see. Film Comment reported on this project in development in their July/August 2006 issue. Just thought that should be noted. I’m not trying to be difficult. But, unfortunately, unjustly, frustratingly, maybe you have to go to another country to see it.

Posted by Paul on 03/15/2007 at 8:46 AM

You should , Arroba, You should 🙂 My mistake, I was referring to, that is a magazine, not a blog. About Burnett, I saw ‘Killer of Sheep’ last saturday, it is highly recommendable.

Posted by boudu on 03/15/2007 at 10:18 AM

No, I’m not attending BAFICI–not this year, anyway. And to clarify, Burnett´s new African film isn’t finished yet, he was just showing some excerpts at his master class.
Posted by Jonathan R. on 03/15/2007 at 10:34 AM
This entry was posted in Featured Texts. Bookmark the permalink.