Now showing at the Galileo Galilei Planetarium in Buenos Aires is one of the most unique pieces of cinema available to the public in South America.
A part of the city government’s summer cultural programme, Tango 360 is a film designed to be projected onto a dome, a ‘360 degree film’. In this case, it is projected onto the domed ceiling of the Buenos Aires planetarium, a Palermo landmark most recognisable for the flashing lights encrusted on the dome’s exterior.
The planetarium was opened to the public in the late 1960s and since then has been a site of huge astrological interest to the city, providing free access to its telescopes and lectures. Now, and until the end of February, it adds tango to the collection of wonders it displays.
The 26-minute film’s narrative focuses loosely on the lives of a couple, but more than that, on the city of Buenos Aires. The film is an ode to the Argentine capital, and for those who love it as much as the filmmakers clearly do, this alone is enough reason to see it. Images of the city are ubiquitous in the film, moving to the soundtrack of ground-breaking Argentine tango musician Astor Piazzolla, making for an innovative creation that would struggle to be more porteño, especially showing at one of Buenos Aires’ most iconic venues.
Words and phrases sometimes adorn the images: they float and dive freely across the screen like the rest of the images, joining a curved, tango-themed, moving collage. Although I was left with the impression that the use of words in the film could’ve been handled slightly better, they were a good addition to a film that is more abstract art than narrative cinema, guiding viewers along the main points of what little plot there is.
On the top floor of the planetarium, the film theatre is a 20 metre diameter room with 360 seats all steeply reclined to face the ceiling. The full dome projection system is an impressive machine, represented by the huge projector in the centre of the room, which only just slips out of your line of vision when sat back in the seat.
There are many difficulties inherent to tackling a 360 degree film projection, and for the most part, Tango 360 does fairly well. The projections fills the entire screen – so people on opposite sides are not seeing the same images in front of them – though it also rotates slowly so that everyone catches most of it. It does sometimes display a similar image on both sides of the dome, but never without some kind of variation, so the experience is marginally different for everyone. I did find myself occasionally craning my neck uncomfortably to catch an important part of the film which was showing on an awkward part of the screen to see from my seat. This was especially the case with words, which are difficult to read upside down.
Despite these minor inconveniences, and a relatively steep admission price, the show that is ‘Tango 360’ is well worth a visit.
Tango 360 shows until 28th February at the Galileo Galilei planetarium in the Bosques de Palermo (Av. Sarmiento Y Belisario Roldán) on Saturdays and Sundays at 8pm. Tickets, $50, can be bought on the door. For more information, visit the website.