Arts & Entertainment

Argentine capital’s independent film fest recaptures pre-pandemic spirit

By Javier Castro Bugarin

Buenos Aires, Apr 19 (EFE).- The Argentine capital’s BAFICI independent film festival is back in full swing for the first time since the onset of the coronavirus crisis more than two years ago, allowing movie-goers to enjoy the magic of one of the main events of its type in Latin America.

The festival, which runs from Tuesday until May 1, will kick off with three world premieres: “El ascenso y caida del Chop Chop Show,” a puppet mockumentary directed by Argentine filmmaker Diego Labat; “Pequeña flor,” a film based on Argentine author Iosi Havilio’s like-named novel and directed by Santiago Mitre; and “Ahora ya se donde encontrarte,” a short film that uses Google Earth images to tell the life story of its creator, Diego Berakha.

“We’re fortunate this year that everything’s opening up and we’re going to have an edition with a lot of Argentine guests and filmmakers. It’s a festival that encourages people to meet up on the street, walk from one theater to another,” Javier Porta Fouz, Bafici’s artistic director since 2016, told Efe.

A total of 290 films will be screened during the nearly two-week event.

The Buenos Aires International Festival of Independent Cinema (BAFICI) of a scene from the film (BAFICI), which traditionally takes places between March and April, was one of the first festivals canceled in 2020 due to the arrival of the pandemic.

Last year’s edition, for its part, was held under strict health protocols and restrictions that, among other things, impeded the participation of foreign filmmakers.

By contrast, a large contingent of international cinema artists have traveled of their own accord this year to attend the event.

“Of the 15 members of the official jury, 11 are foreigners … we have a lot of global premieres, not just Argentine films,” Porta Fouz said.

Although he says he is not a big fan of virtual film festivals, he recognizes that one pandemic-driven reality is here to stay: simultaneous in-theater and online premieres.

“There are a lot of people who don’t come to these films because they don’t even know they exist. It seems to me that the online (option) is a good complement,” said the artistic director of BAFICI, which in this year’s edition will show 223 films via streaming video.

BAFICI has always been known for its screenings of Argentine films and its offering of small, little-known gems, pictures that otherwise would be crowded out by big-budget, Hollywood fare.

Some examples of the latter are “El pa(de)ciente,” a Chilean comedy based on a true story; “The Timekeepers of Eternity,” a film by Greek director Aristotelis Maragkos that re-envisions a Stephen King television movie; and “Viens je t’emmene” (Nobody’s Hero), a film with elements of a vaudeville show whose central themes are prostitution and terrorism.

“I’d like for the BAFICI to help in not only reviving the downtown of Buenos Aires city, which already has a lot of life on its own, but also the idea of cinema as a diverse art form. Cinema is much more than superheroes with tried and tested brands,” Porta Fouz said of a festival that this year features three separate official competitions (International, Argentina and Vanguard and Gender). EFE


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