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Cinema of Argentina
The Cinema of Argentina has a long tradition dating back to the late nineteenth century, and has played an important role in the Culture of Argentina for more than a century.
Throughout the 20th century, the industry had numerous [[:Category:Argentine actors|actors]] and [[:Category:Argentine film directors|directors]] that made the Argentine cinema one of the most important in the Spanish-speaking world.
Films have generally been financed by a combination of state subsidies, guilds, film studios and film producers.
In 1896, French photographer Eugene Py was working for the Belgian Henri Lepage and the Austrian Max Glucksmann at the 'Casa Lepage', a photographic supplies business in Buenos Aires. The three all saw the debut of the Lumiere Cinematographe in Argentina, in Buenos Aires on July 18, 1896, at the Teatro Odeon, only a year after its debut in Paris.
Lepage then imported the first French cinematographic equipment into the country and though Eugenio Py who, using a Gaumont camera in 1897, is often credited for the first Argentine film, La Bandera Argentina (which consisted of a flag of Argentina waving in the wind at the Plaza de Mayo), the credit belongs to German-Brazilian Federico Figner, who screened the first three Argentine films on 24 November 1896 (shorts depicting sights of Buenos Aires). Earning renown, Py continued to produce films for exhibition at the Casa Lepage for several years, following up with Viaje del Doctor Campos Salles a Buenos Aires and La Revista de la Escuadra Argentina (1901); by that time, the first projection halls had opened, working as part of the cross-national film production, distribution and system developed by Glucksmann in Argentina, Uruguay and Chile.
Several Argentine artists continued experimenting the possibilities of the new invention, making news shorts and documentaries. Eugenio A. Cardini filmed Escenas Callejeras (1901) and Mario Gallo made the first Argentine film with a point-of-view: El fusilamiento de Dorrego . Other directors such as Ernesto Gunche directed a number of successful early documentaries.
The Argentine history and literature provided the themes of the first years of film-making. One of the first successes of the national cinema was Nobleza Gaucha of 1915, inspired by Martin Fierro, the gaucho poem by Jose Hernandez. Based on Jose Marmol's novel, Amalia (1914 film) was the first full-length movie of national production, and in 1917 El apostol, a satiric short on president Hipolito Yrigoyen, became the first animated feature film in world cinema. Another notable 1917 debut, for Francisco Defilippis Novoa's Flor de durazno, was Carlos Gardel.
[[List of Argentine films:1920s]]
Directors such as Jose A. Ferreyra began to work producing films in Argentine cinema releasing films such as Palomas rubias (1920), La Gaucha (1921) and Buenos Aires, ciudad de ensueno in 1922. Films that followed included La Maleva, Corazon de criolla, Melenita de oro, Leyenda del puente inca (1923), Odio serrano, Mientras Buenos Aires duerme, Arriero de Yacanto (1924) and El Organito de la tarde and Mi ultimo tango (1925).
In 1926, Ferreyra released La Vuelta al Bulin, La Costurerita que dio aquel mal paso and Muchachita de Chiclana followed by Perdon, viejita (1927). Many of these Ferreyra films featured two of the decade's most popular stars, Alvaro Escobar and Elena Guido.
Towards the end of the decade, directors such as Julio Irigoyen began to release films such as Alma en pena in 1928. Films such as these began to feature the Argentine culture of tango dancing into films, something which rocketed later in the 1930s after the advent of sound.
1930s: The beginning of sound
[[List of Argentine films:1930s]]
The incorporation of sound had a great impact. In 1930 Adios Argentina became the first Argentine film to have a soundtrack. The film spawned star actresses such as Libertad Lamarque and Ada Cornaro who both debuted in the film.
In 1931, Jose A. Ferreyra directed Munequitas portenas, the first Argentine film to be made with Vitaphone sound synchronisation. That year, Ferreyra made a second sound film, El Cantar de mi ciudad, encouraging other early directors to make the transition to sound.
Movietone arrived in 1933 and it allowed both voice and music in motion pictures. Also, the first two Argentine cinematographic studios were created: Argentina Sono Film was founded by Angel Mentasti; Lumiton was created by a partnership led by Enrique Susini, who was instrumental in the introduction of television to Argentina in 1951.
The first disc-less sound film was Tango (1931), directed by Luis Maglia Barth and a key film of the period was the tango film Dancing which saw the birth of a number of Argentine stars such as Amelia Bence and Tito Lusiardo; other popular actors from the era included Aida Alberti, Armando Bo, Floren Delbene and Arturo Garcia Buhr. Two such features which have endured in local culture are Madreselva, starring Libertad Lamarque and Casamiento en Buenos Aires, starring Tita Merello. The two 1939 films each featured themes that have become Argentine musical standards, likewise immortalizing the two leading ladies.
Other successful period films included: El alma del bandoneon, Mario Soffici, 1935; La muchacha de a bordo, Manuel Romero, 1936; Ayudame a vivir, 1936 by Ferreyra; Besos brujos (1937) by Ferreyra; La vuelta al nido and Asi es la vida (1939) directed by Francisco Mugica.
Manuel Romero in particular was one of the most prominent directors of the mid to late 1930s and consistently worked in comedy based films often with rising Argentine star Luis Sandrini in films such as Don Quijote del altillo.
The film industry in Argentina reached a pinnacle in the late 1930s and 1940s when 5,000 artisans produced an average of forty-two films annually (then one of the world's most prolific film industries), each of them honouring popular and political themes primarily interested in social criticism.
The growing popularity of the cinema of the United States, pressure from the Roman Catholic Church and increasing censorship during the Peron presidency limited the growth of Argentine cinema somewhat, not least because harassment led to the exile of a number of prominent actors, among them Alberto de Mendoza, Arturo Garcia Buhr, Nini Marshall and Libertad Lamarque, whose rivalry with her colleague Eva Duarte turned against her when the latter became First Lady in 1946. Amid all this, Argentine cinema began losing viewership as foreign titles gained an increasing foothold in the Argentine market. The problem eventually became so bad that Argentina tried to curb the influx with the Cinema Law of 1957, establishing the "Instituto Nacional de Cinematografia" to provide education and funding.
Among the era's most successful films were: Historia de una noche, Luis Saslavsky, 1941; La dama duende, Luis Saslavsky, 1945; Malambro ; Albeniz (Luis Cesar Amadori) starring Pedro Lopez Lagar (1947); Pelota de trapo (1948) and Crimen de Oribe (1950), Leopoldo Torres Rios; and Las aguas bajan turbias, by Hugo del Carril, 1952. One of the few Argentine actors who made a successful transition into directing was Mario Soffici, who debuted behind the camera in 1935 to acclaim with El alma del bandoneon and went on to become an institution in Argentine film over the next generation; among his most memorable work was the film adaptation of Marco Denevi's bestselling mystery, Rosaura a la diez ("Rosaura at Ten O'Clock"), for whose 1958 screen release Soffici wrote, directed and starred.
Horror, a genre little explored by Argentine film-makers, found an Argentine director during this era, as well. Narciso Ibanez Menta kept screen and t.v. audiences on their toes for decades with his takes on the Dracula fable and tales of those doomed in almost any way imaginable.
Television, as in the United States, began to exert pressure on the film market in the 1950s; on the air since the 1951 launch of Channel 7 (public television), Argentine television programming is the oldest in Latin America.
First "New Cinema"
Since the late 1950s a new generation of film directors succeeded in joining the technical ability with aesthetic refinement that finally took Argentine films to international film festivals. The first wave of such directors are Leopoldo Torre-Nilsson, Fernando Ayala, David Jose Kohon, Simon Feldman and Fernando "Pino" Solanas, who began by making La Hora de los Hornos the first documentaries on the political unrest in late-1960s Argentina (at great risk to himself).
Directors such as Tulio Demicheli and Carlos Schlieper began to emerge who often both wrote and directed them. A second generation that achieved a cinematographic style were Jose Martinez Suarez, Manuel Antin and Leonardo Favio.
1960s and 1970s
Kurt Land directed El asalto in 1960 starring Alberto de Mendoza, a crime drama shot in black and white. Lautaro Murua, a Chilean actor working in Argentine cinema directed Alias Gardelito in 1961. The film showed strong political and social undertones and is about the difficulty of living an honest life in the face of an unrelenting poverty. The title of this story is taken from the name of the great Argentine singer Carlos Gardel, the idol of the antihero Toribio portrayed by Alberto Argibay. Toribio's goal in life is to emulate the famous singer and making his own way successfully in the music business. Yet at the same time, he does not stop his illegal means of making ends meet, stealing and petty thievery. Films such as A hierro muere starring Alberto de Mendoza and Olga Zubarry and Accidente 703 in 1962 were often co-produced with Spain and often featured both Argentine and Spanish born actors.
In 1963, comedy films became to feature prominently in Argentine cinema, and films such as Alias Flequillo in 1963 directed by Julio Saraceni starred comedians such as Jose Marrone. Likewise, Las Aventuras del Capitan Piluso en el Castillo del Terror starred comedians such as Alberto Olmedo who consistently appeared in the genre thorughout the 1960s and 1970s appearing in 1967's El andador and countless other slap-stick comedies.
[[Image:Plata dulce - Federico Luppi - Julio de Grazia - 1982.jpg|thumb|Federico Luppi and [[w:es:Julio De Grazia|Julio de Grazia]] in Plata dulce .]]
The trend towards [[w:fr:Cine Verite|Cine Verite]] so evident in France in the early 1970s found an Argentine exponent in stage director Sergio Renan. His 1974 crime drama La tregua ("The Truce"), his first foray into film, was nominated for an Oscar. The same year, Osvaldo Bayer cooperated with the Province of Santa Cruz to make La patagonia rebelde as an homage to a violently quelled 1922 sheephands' strike. The collaboration was among the first of its kind in Argentina.
Nostalgia was par for the course during these fast-changing times and perhaps nobody captured this interest like Leopoldo Torre Nilsson, whose reworking of Argentine literary classics like [[w:es:La Mano en la Trampa|The Hand in the Trap]] (1961), Martin Fierro (1968), [[w:es:Los Siete Locos|The Seven Lunatics]] (1973) and [[w:es:Boquitas Pintadas|Painted Lips]] (1974) earned him an international cult following that endures to this day. Similar in atmosphere, Jose Martinez Suarez's moody Los muchachos de antes no usaban arsenico takes a turn at murder worthy of Alfred Hitchcock. It's also memorable as Mario Soffici's last role.
Towards the mid to late 1960s, directors such as Armando Bo produces a high number of sex comedies many of which shocked the audience as they were a from of soft porn and displayed a controversial degree of nudity and sex not seen in the industry before. This preference continued into the 1970s, with Jorge Porcel's suggestive comedies. Self-deprecating and unflappable, Porcel's well-meaning, weak-willed "everyman" played the perfect foil to Alberto Olmedo's fastidious tee-totaller, spinning this time-honored comic formula into a string of hits between 1973 and 1988.
Heavily censored from 1975 until about 1980, Argentine film-makers generally limited themselves to light-hearted subjects. Among the most memorable productions during that era was Hector Olivera's adaptation of Roberto Cossa's play, La nona . The dark comedy became an uncanny allusion to the voracious foreign debt interest payments that later saddled the Argentine economy. One director who, even as a supporter of the military regime, delved into middle-class neuroses with frankness was Fernando Siro, an inventive film-maker seemingly insensitive to many of his colleagues' tribulations, many of whom were forced to leave during the dictatorship; though his attitudes distanced him from his peers and public, his 1981 tragedy Venido a menos ("Dilapidated") continues to be influential.
The early 1980s
Following a certain loosening of restrictions in 1980, muck-raking cinema began to make itself evident on the Argentine screen. Plunging head-long into subjects like corruption and impunity (without dircetly indicting those in power), Adolfo Aristarain's Tiempo de revancha , Juan Jose Jusid's Plata dulce and Eduardo Calcagno's Los enemigos took hard looks at labor rights abuses, corporate corruption and the day's prevailing climate of fear at a time when doing so was often perilous. Petty corruption was also brought up in Fernando Ayala's El arreglo .
Post junta cinema
A new era in Argentine cinema started after the downfall of dictator General Leopoldo Galtieri and his autocratic regime in 1982; besides a few memorable exceptions like Alejandro Doria's family comedy Esperando la carroza , the era saw a marked decline in the popularity of slapstick comedies towards films with more serious undertones and subject matter.
The first group deals frankly with the repression, torture and the disappearances during the Dirty War in the 1970s and early 1980s. They include: Hector Olivera's Funny Little Dirty War (1983) and the true story Night of the Pencils (1986); Luis Puenzo's Academy Award-winning The Official Story (1985); "Pino" Solanas' [[w:es:Tangos El Exilio de Gardel|Tangos]] (1985) and Sur and Alejandro Doria's harrowing Sofia (1987), among others.
Among films dealing with past abuses, one German-Argentine co-production that also deserves mention is Jeanine Meerapfel's La amiga , where Swedish leading lady Liv Ullmann is cast beside Argentine film standards Federico Luppi, Cipe Lincovski, Victor Laplace and Lito Cruz.
A second group of films includes portrayals of exile and homesickness, like Alberto Fischermann's Los dias de junio and Juan Jose Jusid's Made in Argentina (1986), as well as plots rich in subtext, like Miguel Pereira's Veronico Cruz (1988), Gustavo Mosquera's Lo que vendra and a cult favorite, Martin Donovan's English-language Apartment Zero (1988). These used metaphor, life's imponderables and hints at wider socio-political issues to reconcile audiences with recent events.
This can also be said of treatments of controversial literature and painful 19th century history like Maria Luisa Bemberg's Camila (1984), Carlos Sorin's La pelicula del rey and Eliseo Subiela's Hombre mirando al sudeste . This latter title, a reworking of Adolfo Bioy Casares's short story "Morel's Invention" (1940), was remade in the United States as K-PAX, in 2001.Cinergia movie file by Cristina Molano-Wendt, Amy Bianchi, Shannon Tierny and Brian Sabella. For educational purposes. New Internationalist. Issue 192, February 1989.
[[List of Argentine films:1990s]]
The 1990s brought another New Argentine Cinema wave, marked by classical cinema and a twist from Independent Argentine Production
In 1991, Marco Bechis' Alambrado ("Chicken Wire") was released. That same year, activist film-maker Fernando "Pino" Solanas released his third major film, El viaje ("The Journey"), a surreal overview of prevailing social conditions in Latin America. Existential angst continued to dominate the Argentine film agenda, however, with Eliseo Subiela's El lado oscuro del corazon and Adolfo Aristarain's Un lugar en el mundo - notable also for its having been nominated for an Oscar.
Later in the 1990s, the focus began to shift towards Argentina's mounting social problems, such as rising homelessness and crime. Alejandro Agresti's Buenos Aires vice versa (1996) rescued the beauty of feelings in the shadows of poverty in Buenos Aires and Bruno Stagnaro's Pizza, birra, faso looked into the human duality of even the most incorrigible and violent individuals.
Having an intense past and rich cultural heritage to draw on, directors continued to reach back with moody period pieces like Eduardo Mignogna's Flop (1990), Maria Luisa Bemberg's De eso no se habla , Santiago Oves' rendition of Rodolfo Walsh's Agatha Christie-esque tale Asesinato a distancia , as well as bio-pics like Leonardo Favio's Raging Bull-esque Gatica, el mono (1993) and Javier Torre's Lola Mora (1996).
Political history was re-examined, too, with films like Eduardo Calcagno's controversial take on '70s-era Argentine film censor Paulino Tato in El censor (1995), Juan J. Jusid's indictment of the old compulsory military training system, Bajo bandera , Marco Bechis' Garage Olimpo (1999), which took viewers into one of the dictatorship's most brutal torture dungeons and Juan Carlos Desanzo's answer to Madonna's Evita, his 1996 Eva Peron (a portrait of a far more complex first lady than the one Andrew Lloyd Webber had taken up).
Popular culture, likewise, has had its turn on the Argentine screen. Alejandro Doria's Cien veces no debo took an irreverent peek into a typical middle-class Argentine home, Jose Santiso's De mi barrio con amor is a must-see for anyone planning to visit Buenos Aires' bohemian southside and Rodolfo Pagliere's El dia que Maradona conocio a Gardel is an inventive ode to two standards of Argentine culture.
[[List of Argentine films:2000s]]
Films such as Fabian Bielinsky's twister Nueve reinas , his gothic El aura (2005) and Juan Jose Campanella's teary El hijo de la novia have received praise and various awards around the world. Juan Carlos Desanzo cast Miguel Angel Sola (best known for his role in Tango) as the immortal Jorge Luis Borges in El amor y el espanto , a look at the writer's struggles with Peron-era intimidation as well as with his own insecurities.
Always politically active, Argentine film continues to treat hard subjects, like Spanish director Manane Rodriguez's look at abducted children, Los pasos perdidos and "Pino" Solanas' perhaps definitive film on the 2001 economic crisis, Memorias del saqueo . Tristan Bauer took audiences back to soldiers' dehumanizing Falklands War experience with Iluminados por el fuego and Israel Adrian Caetano follows four football players through their 1977 escape from certain death in Cronica de una fuga .
Responding to its sentimental public, Argentine film at times returns to subjects of the heart. David Lipszyc's grainy portrait of depression-era Argentina, El astillero was a hit with critics, Paula Hernandez's touching ode to immigrants, Herencia , has become something of a sleeper, Adolfo Aristarain's Lugares comunes follows an elderly professor into retirement, Cleopatra (2003), Eduardo Mignona's tale of an unlikely friendship, received numerous awards, as did Carlos Sorin's touching El perro . Emotional negativity, a staple for filmmakers anywhere, was explored in Mario Sabato's India Pravile (2003), Francisco D'Intino's La esperanza (2005) and Ariel Rotter's El otro (2007) each deals with mid-life crises in very different ways. The pronounced sentimentality of the average Argentine was also the subject of U.S. screen legend Robert Duvall's 2002 Assassination Tango, a deceptively simple crime drama that shows that still waters do, indeed, run deep.
Buffeted by years of economic malaise and encroachment of the domestic film market by foreign titles, the Argentine film industry has been seen through partly by the 1987 creation of the National Institute of Cinema and Audioviual Arts (INCAA), a publicly subsidized film underwriter that, since 1987, has produced 130 full-length art house titles.
Since the beginning of Argentine cinema, over 2,500 films have been produced, with 2004 and 2005 being the most prolific years with 66 and 63 films, respectively.
For an A-Z list of Argentine films currently on wikipedia see [[:Category:Argentine films]].
For a timeline of Argentine films see List of Argentine films
Argentine film companies
EMB Entertainment, Corp. / Contrakultura
Argentina Sono Film S.A.C.I.
Patagonik Film Group
Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences of Argentina Awards
Argentine Film Critics Association Awards
Buenos Aires International Independent Film Festival
Grupo Cine Liberacion
Mar del Plata International Film Festival
History of the Argentine independent cinema (Spanish)
History of the cinema in Argentina at INCAA. (In Spanish)
National Cinematographic Industry Union.
Argentina: a movie set in Argentina.ar.
Argentine cinema trailers in Argentina.ar.
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This article is licensed under the GNU Free Documentation License. It uses material from the Wikipedia article Cinema of Argentina