Watch This: Buenos Aires in Five Handpicked Flicks
Argentina's film industry is one of the most important and prolific in the Spanish speaking world. Cecilia would know. She's written a Masters thesis (now a book!) and a dissertation about it. The only Latin American country to have won the Academy Award for Best Foreign Language Film, Argentina has actually nabbed it twice. Maybe you caught The Secret in Their Eyes when it took home the Oscar back in 2009. Wondering what should be next in the queue—particularly if you're headed south? Cecilia took a break from her own screenplay to share five of her all-time favorite film portrayals of her native Buenos Aires. Pop the pochoclo!
1. Gilda, no me arrepiento de este amor / I Am Gilda (2016), Lorena Muñoz
For: a fresh perspective on Argentine pop culture and a serious soundtrack
In 1996, kindergarten teacher turned cumbia superstar Miriam Alejandra Bianchi (a.k.a Gilda) died tragically in a car accident. In her brand new biopic, which masterfully captures the atmosphere of Buenos Aires's sultry "bailantas" (cumbia dance halls), Brazilian actress Natalia Oreiro performs the icon's original hits.
2. Relatos salvajes / Wild Tales (2014), Damián Szifron
For: an irresistible dose of Argentine black comedy
Within a month of its domestic release, Szifron's Oscar-nominated anthology became the highest-earning Argentine film of all time. Co-produced by the Almodóvar brothers, the six self-contained shorts explore themes of conflict, violence, and vengeance across different social classes, their protagonists driven to the brink. Sinfully funny, with a score by Academy Award-winning Argentine composer Gustavo Santaolalla.
3. Los rubios / The Blonds (2003), Albertina Carri
For: an idiosyncratic, personal approach to the fallout from Argentina's "Guerra Sucia"
Co-written by Carri, who was orphaned when her parents "disappeared" at the hand of the Argentine military dictatorship, and novelist Alan Pauls, this autobiographical "meta-documentary drama" belongs to a family of productions by children of Argentina's desaparecidos. As she searches for her vanished parents in a fractured universe of pictures, stories, interviews, and dolls, the director questions everything, including certainty itself.
4. La Ciénaga (2001), Lucrecia Martel
For: family drama and a field trip to Argentina's sun-scorched altiplano
To truly understand Buenos Aires, which is home to nearly a third of Argentina's total population, you'll need a counterpoint. The subject of this Latin American film studies darling, widely acclaimed for its screenwriting and aesthetic treatment, is a languishing provincial family in the country's heat wave-oppressed northwestern plains—where bourgeois life is hardly less stifling than the air.
5. Bolivia (2001), Adrián Caetano
For: a sobering portrait of crisis-gripped Buenos Aires through an outsider's lens
When Freddy, a displaced coca farmer and undocumented Bolivian immigrant, finds work in a seedy San Cristóbal bodegón, he confronts xenophobia, racism, exploitation, and the hardscrabble reality of daily life in an unraveling Buenos Aires—a reality that lends itself to non-professional actors and no-frills black-and-white cinematography.