The enthusiasm for alternative cinema continues to grow, if the Buenos Aires Film Festival BAFICI is any indication. From 11th-22nd April, approximately 350,000 people participated in the screenings, round tables, outdoor screenings, book presentations and other events. Eleven different locations were employed this year, including the Planetarium (for fulldome screenings), two new theatres at the Centro Cultural San Martín, and the Parque Centenario Amphitheatre.
The BAFICI is not only an important event for porteños: around 2,000 guests from other parts of Argentina and abroad flocked to Buenos Aires for the event, including directors, producers, jury members, musicians, actors, critics and other figures from film industries. Some of the well-known foreigners included filmmakers Oskar Alegría and Pilar López Ayala (Spain), Fernand Melgar (Switzerland), Gérard Courant and Valérie Massadian (France), Josh Siegel and Jim Finn (USA), Miguel Gomes and Joao Canijo (Portugal), and Grant Gee (UK).
At a total of 1,012 screenings during the ten days of the festival, 449 films from all six continents were shown. Once again, Argentine films played an important role in the festival, with 111 participating in the different sections. There were several sections that have come to be favourites, including Little BAFICI for children and the young at heart; Careers, which highlights certain filmmakers and takes a look at a selection of their films; Music, with both fiction and documentaries on bands and music; and Cinema of the Future, which includes radical new forms of filmmaking. However, several new sections met with great success at this year’s edition, including Law of Desire, where sex takes a starring role; Pagan Visions, which plays on themes related to the pagan and the sacred; Adolescences, about the difficult transition from childhood to adulthood; Cinema and Architecture, which explores building and design; Family Album, with family portraits of all sorts, and Trances, which is about recreational drugs and their circulation.
In terms of activities for filmmakers, BAFICI continues to offers the Laboratory, where those who are just starting a project for a movie can meet and discuss production with people from the industry. For filmmakers who have advanced to the stage of editing, the Work in Progress section gave them a chance to screen what they have and receive feedback on their work. Many of these works in progress will undoubtedly go on to premier at BAFICI in the years to come.
The Planetarium screenings merit a special note. This was the first year that BAFICI incorporated fulldome movies, that is, films designed to be shown on a 360º dome. The films chosen for this section attracted a wide range of moviegoers, including children (with films like ‘Moles. What’s out there?’) as well as music lovers (the fulldome version of ‘The Wall’ was so popular that several additional screenings were added) and all those interested in new forms of cinema.
All in all, the 14th edition of BAFICI was another great event for film lovers in Buenos Aires, one that shows how much the city craves a broader selection of films to see. Wouldn’t it be marvellous if the Buenos Aires City Government and the organizers found a way to expand on BAFICI so that films as diverse as these could be screened at comfortable, modern theatres throughout the year? In the meantime, we can only hope that some of the wonderful films we didn’t get to see at the festival will be released in theatres as the year progresses.