By MCN Editor editor@moviecitynews.com

TIFF ’11: City-To-City, Buenos Aires Titles

Toronto – The Toronto International Film Festival® proudly welcomes back its City to City programme for the third consecutive year with today’s announcement of the 10 feature-length films encompassing the 2011 lineup. Earlier this year, Cameron Bailey, Co-Director of the Festival, confirmed that the 2011 spotlight would shine on Buenos Aires and introduce audiences to a newly inspired generation of Argentine filmmakers. The City to City series is an exploration of the urban experience, highlighting the best in emerging cinematic talent in a particular locale.

“We found an impressive new generation of filmmakers in Buenos Aires and a thriving film culture,” said Cameron Bailey. “We can’t wait to present these films to the world’s film critics and distributors, and especially to our audience.”

“Argentine film has been inspiring international audiences since the late 1990s, but with this programme, we wanted to consider to what extent this success is an urban phenomenon rather than simply a question of national cinema,” added Kate Lawrie Van de Ven, City to City Programmer. “The array of perspectives we’ve seen while programming this series speaks strongly of the diverse influences this community of filmmakers is bringing to the screen. There’s a dynamic film scene in the city, and many of the new directors are working in contrasting dialogue with the styles established in the 2000s by leading Argentine directors like Lucrecia Martel, Lisandro Alonso and Pablo Trapero. There’s a rich array of cinematic styles emerging across Buenos Aires, from more experimental narratives to sly genre reworks, and we’re excited to bring a sampling of that diversity to TIFF.”

Additionally, TIFF is pleased to present the return of the City to City symposium, a thought-provoking dialogue between the visiting city’s filmmakers and experts on urban culture. This year’s panel, “Buenos Aires – A Conversation,” will take place on Tuesday, September 13 at TIFF Bell Lightbox, and will be open to the public. Admission is free. Further details on featured panellists and invited guests will follow.

Caprichosos de San Telmo Alison Murray, Argentina/Canada World Premiere A portrait of the working-class musicians and dancers of Buenos Aires’s San Telmo neighbourhood, who have channeled the city’s many cultural influences into the street performance called Murga.

The Cat Vanishes Carlos Sorin, Argentina International Premiere When Beatriz picks up her husband Luis from the sanatorium, she is not quite sure if she should believe his psychiatrist’s pronouncement that he is fully cured. Her usually churlish, academic husband is suddenly friendly and cooperative, even willing to take a trip to Brazil’s beaches. When their cat Donatello disappears, Beatriz’ suspicions lead her to question her own sanity. The tension is on high throughout in Carlos Sorin’s latest feature, The Cat Vanishes.

Crane World Pablo Trapero, Argentina Pablo Trapero’s reputation-making feature debut was a seminal work in the Argentine New Wave of the 2000s. An unadorned look at the life of a man trying to make a living as a crane operator in Buenos Aires, Crane World introduced a new talent and a new realist aesthetic to the city’s cinema.

Fatherland Nicolás Prividera, Argentina World Premiere This rigorously structured and visually engrossing essay film explores Argentina’s fractious modern history through the words of writers – both founding fathers and oppositional voices – who lay buried in Buenos Aires’s famed Recoleta Cemetery.

Invasion Hugo Santiago, Argentina Canadian Premiere Invasion is the legend of a city, imaginary or real, besieged by powerful enemies and defended by a handful of men who may not be heroes. In this rare inclusion of a retrospective title, Santiago’s protagonists will fight to the end without suspecting that their battle is endless.

A Mysterious World Rodrigo Moreno, Argentina/Germany North American Premiere After his girlfriend suddenly breaks up with him, a young man’s life transforms into an erratic urban journey inexplicably connected to his temperamental communist-era car. The latest film from Rodrigo Moreno (El Custodio) is an affectionate, singular portrait of one guileless protagonist’s quixotic journey through a period of uncertainty.

Pompeya Tamae Garateguy, Argentina North American Premiere A junior screenwriter is hired by an established film director to write his new film: a gangster movie set in Buenos Aires. In each meeting, the filmmakers create a story that takes place in an imaginary Pompeya neighbourhood, plagued by secrets, political disputes and crime. When pure fiction and reality are completely corrupted, the unexpected happens. In her first solo feature, Tamae Garateguy simultaneously lambasts the Buenos Aires filmmaking scene and the gangster film, ingeniously stirring up a volatile alchemy of genres.

The Stones Román Cárdenas, Argentina International Premiere In a quiet interrupted only by the noise of boats, a couple lives without crossing each other’s paths. He is a writer waiting for the words; she is an alienated employee of a fumigation company. The Stones explores the increasing space between two people at the same time as it maps the short distance between urban Buenos Aires and its rustic flip-side in the neighbouring Paraná Delta. Román Cárdenas pairs a spellbinding visual acuity with thrilling eruptions of comedy in this feature debut.

The Student Santiago Mitre, Argentina North American Premiere The graffitied halls, run-down classrooms and surrounding streets of the University of Buenos Aires provide the ideal location for Santiago Mitre’s briskly paced debut, The Student. Mitre brilliantly exposes the backroom dealings and negotiations in the murky world of student politics, a microcosm for the world at large, in this fictional account of a young man’s discovery of his talent for politicking through his seduction of an assistant professor and activist.

Vaquero Juan Minujín, Argentina International Premiere Julian Lamar, a 33-year-old actor working on the fringes of the Buenos Aires film scene, wants to give his career a boost by landing a role in a Western a Hollywood director is going to shoot in Argentina. Vaquero, the debut feature by Argentine actor, Juan Minujín, gives an insider’s perspective of Argentina’s film community in this hilariously dark comedy.

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“To be a critic is to be a workaholic. Workaholism is socially conditioned: viewed favourably by exploiters, it’s generally ruinous to a worker’s mental health. When T.S. Eliot said criticism was as inevitable as breathing, he failed to mention that, respiratory problems notwithstanding, breathing is easy. Criticism is reflexive before reflective: to formalise/industrialise an involuntary instinct requires time, effort and discipline. The reason we seek remuneration, as opposed to the self-hatred of being a scab, is because all labour should be waged…

“Criticism, so the cliché by now goes, is dying. None of the panel discussions on its death agony, however—including those in which I’ve formally participated—come at it from the wider perspective that the problem surely needs. They defend the ways in which criticism functions in relation to the industry and to the public, but they fail to contextualise these relationships as defined by ultimately rotten and self-harming imperatives.

“Criticism was a noble profession so long as only a few could practice it for money; when the field expands, as it has with a so-called ‘democratisation’ of our practice, those few lose their political power. Competition grows and markets are undercut: publications are naturally going to start paying less. Precarity is both cause and effect of a surplus workforce: the reason you’re only as good as your last article is because there are plenty of other folks who can write the next one in your place. The daily grind is: pitch, or perish.

B”ut criticism, so a counter-cliché goes, is not dying. An irony: this is an elite sport that is no longer elite in terms of who is able to practice it, but in economic terms it’s clutching to a perverse and outmoded hierarchical structure. It’s more meritocratic than ever, now: which is to say it isn’t meritocratic at all. That’s a paradox in bad need of a resolution…”

~ Michael Pattison Manifestoes Film Criticism

“It’s easy to forget when you’re reading a critic every single week or multiple times a week, that most of us who do this job, and have been doing it for a long time, understand that this is basically a parasitic profession. I don’t mean in the sense that we’re evil bloodsucking creatures, but we couldn’t exist if we didn’t have something to analyze. And I’m always conscious of that. So whether I like or don’t like a particular thing you do, my point of view is always that of an appreciator. I just like to be in the world that you create.”
~ Matt Zoller Seitz To Sam Esmail

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