Tickets are already on sale for the 14th International Buenos Aires Film Festival (BAFICI), which runs from Thursday, 11th April through to Sunday, 22nd April.
With 449 films, including feature-length and shorts, showing at this year’s BAFICI film festival, there is something for just about everyone. As the sheer scope of the programme can be overwhelming, here is a list of recommendations, including the must-see list of Andrés Di Tella, the founding director of the festival. There are plenty of films on the list to keep you busy for ten days of non-stop cinema.
While local films have always played a leading role in the festival, this is the first year in the history of BAFICI that the opening film is Argentine: ‘El último Elvis’, the first feature-length film by Armando Bo, grandson of the mythic cult-film director from the 1960s. In total, more than 100 Argentine productions are on the festival’s agenda this year, including 59 feature-length films.
The Argentine competition is always a great place to take the pulse of local filmmaking. Gastón Solnicki’s documentary ‘Papirosen’ whittles 180 hours of family footage down to a 74 minute film that takes the concept of home movie to a whole new level. In ‘La chica del Sur’, director José Luis García returns to South Korea twenty years later to track down Im Su-kyong, a young activist who announced that she would cross the North Korea-South Korea border in 1989. The brother Diego and Pablo Levy are back with their first fiction film, ‘Masterplan’, a comic tale of credit card fraud run amok. Another competitor in the Argentine section is ‘Dioramas’, by Gonzalo Castro, his second feature-film after ‘Resfriada’, which won him an award for best director in BAFICI ’08.
A handful of Argentine films have been included in this year’s International competition, including ‘Los Salvajes’, a story of adolescents escaping from a juvenile detention center and directed by Alejandro Fadel. After seeing ‘Los Paranoicos’, the debut of director Gabriel Medina, many local film buffs are looking forward to his latest film, ‘La Araña Vampiro’, a mix of science fiction, coming of age and adventure. Another Argentine film in the competition is ‘Germania’, by Maximiliano Schonfeld, in which a German family unravels as they are forced to abandon their farm in Entre Ríos.
Beyond the competition, there are a few more Argentine movies in the festival to keep on the scope. One is ‘Nocturnos’, a portrait of the city of Buenos Aires and its nocturnal inhabitants, by acclaimed writer and filmmaker Edgardo Cozarinsky. Don’t miss the chance to feast upon the luscious Isabel Sarli in the 1960 film ‘India’, the third collaboration between filmmaking legend Armando Bo and his paramour, Sarli. This film was believed to be lost until a copy was discovered in 2009 and restored for this year’s festival.
One foreign film on the must-see list is ‘Snowtown’, Justin Kurzel’s fictional account of the horrific serial murders that occurred in a small Australian town in 1999. Other films in the International competition include the Serbian ‘Clip’, directed by Maja Milos, a big winner at the Rotterdam festival; Zach Weintraub’s ‘The International Sign for Choking’, which was filmed in Buenos Aires, and ‘Bonsai’ by the Chilean filmmaker Cristián Jiménez.
Often the making of a movie is as impressive as the movie itself. This may be the case of ‘This is Not a Film’, which documents the house arrest of Jafar Panahi, an Iranian director in Tehran, by another filmmaker, Mojtaba Mirtahmasb. The result, though it may not consider itself a film, was smuggled out of Iran on a pen drive and just made it as a last-minute submission to Cannes.
Some international picks are already selling out, including ‘Tabú’ by Miguel Gomes, a film that many claim should have won the Berlin film festival. Others whose tickets are going fast include ‘Los Pasos Dobles’, by Spanish filmmaker Isaki Lacuesta; ‘The Day He Arrives’, by South Korean director Hang Song-soo, and ‘Photographic Memory’ by Ross McElwee, in which the director journeys to his youth to try to gain some insight on his quarrelsome son.
This year’s Focus section will highlight the work of fifteen directors, many of whom are virtually unknown outside the festival circuit. These directors, including Grant Gee, Thomas Alfredson, Ruth Beckermann and Te-Sheng Wei, often attend the screenings of their films, giving the audience a chance to ask questions and debate the issues after the screening.
Of course, organising a schedule for BAFICI can be a little overwhelming, but rest assured that there is nearly always something to see. Get tickets to the Planetarium for a whole new viewing experience known as “fulldome”, or head to Parque Centenario for one of the free outdoor films at the Amphitheatre, or go the festival’s website, www.bafici.gov.ar, to pick the films that strike your fancy.
Tickets for shows can be purchased with a credit card online (though the internet purchase fee – $3 – adds an additional 30% to the regular adult ticket price) at www.festivales.gob.ar. When you click to purchase a ticket for a film, the website also shows approximately how full the theater is for each screening. However, if you aren’t up for so much planning, simply head to El Abasto Shopping, the festival’s headquarters, and get yourself a ticket for whatever happens to be showing. You may just be swept off your feet by an astonishing film.