Herald favorites: six of the best Argentine films from 2022

by Agustin Mango
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Big productions and indie films, historic events and reflections on storytelling, lockdown tales and street hussle portraits: here are six of the best Argentine films of 2022.

Argentina, 1985

Director: Santiago Mitre


The story of how a team of young legal assistants under hero prosecutor Julio Strassera managed to convict the leaders of Argentina’s deadliest dictatorship passed the 1 million ticket mark. Co-written by Mariano Llinás, the film drew from classic Hollywood influences (from John Ford to Steven Spielberg) to tell a David and Goliath tale that used comedy to usher audiences into the story of how Argentine justice made history by addressing its most gruesome chapter. 

The film, which is Argentina’s entry in the shortlist for the Oscars in the International Feature Film category, was also a local box office hit in the country. This feat was even more impressive when you consider the unprecedented conditions of its release. Santiago Mitre’s film about the Trial of the Juntas, starring Ricardo Darin and Peter Lanzani, was boycotted by multiplex chains as a response to co-producer Amazon Studios’ decision to release the film in theaters for just two weeks before making it available on its streaming platform.

Herbaria

Director: Leandro Listorti

A beautiful, thoughtful reflection on time and memory, this essay-documentary won Leandro Listorti a Best Director award at the 2022 Mar del Plata Film Festival. It also shed some light on the issue of film preservation in Argentina, where the absence of a state-funded cinematheque and lack of policies on preservation have caused more than half the films produced in the country to be lost, as well as 90% of silent films. Listorti matches this issue with another fact: more than 500 species of plants have become extinct on Earth since 1750, more than all the birds, amphibians and mammals combined. The director describes these phenomena as if in a visual poem, by observing the craftsmanship of the people in charge of preserving these materials, from botanists and illustrators to archivists and film museum workers –like heroes fighting against time, indifference and oblivion. 

Cambio cambio [Change Change]
Director: Lautaro García Candela

A “financial thriller set in Buenos Aires”, as its director defines it, Cambio cambio tells the story of a twentysomething arbolito [Spanish for “little tree”, an informal street money changer], a member of an urban tribe that has been part of the landscape of Buenos Aires’ Florida street for at least 40 years. The movie’s plot structure and slice-of-life approach channels the energy of a country that’s painfully aware of the ups and downs of the US currency. A generation of youths that can’t make ends meet and the frenzied geography of Buenos Aires City are masterfully represented in a film that evokes and updates porteño street classics like Pizza, birra, faso and Nine Queens.

Trenque Lauquen

Director: Laura Citarella

After the strange disappearance of a botanist in a Buenos Aires province town, two colleagues that were romantically involved with her start investigating her whereabouts, but end up unearthing all kinds of secrets. A Borges-like labyrinth of a movie, this gargantuan four-hour two-parter is at once a historical puzzle, a detective story and a sci-fi film. Winner of the Latin American Competition at the Mar del Plata film festival, the third film by the director of Ostende and Dog Lady –also the head producer at Pampero Cine, the people behind Mariano Llinás’ landmark 14-hour La flor– is, above all, a spot-on representation of small town life and a reflection on the ways we tell and consume stories.

La edad media [The Middle Ages]

Directors: Luciana Acuña & Alejo Moguillansky

Filmed during the COVID-19 lockdown, the movie is an almost absurd portrait of a family’s dynamic during the pandemic, set in directors Alejo Moguillansky and Luciana Acuña’s home and starring their real-life daughter. The Middle Ages features them taking online courses, trying to work and find moments of solitude in a perpetually full house. In essence, trying to not go completely crazy. Cleo, the 8-year-old star, is the protagonist and the one who copes best with the new crisis, as the story revolves around her trying to collect money to buy a telescope by selling the house’s objects. Moguillansky and Acuña produced a story that’s both relatable and also highly poetical and philosophical, in the playful and comedic fiction/documentary hybrid style they have mastered throughout their previous films.

Pequeña flor [Petite Fleur]
Director: Santiago Mitre
Earlier this year, Mitre also released Petite Fleur, an adaptation of Iosi Havilio’s novel of the same title, set in France. A small, dark screwball comedy about an Argentine artist (played by Daniel Hendler) dealing with unemployment and a conjugal crisis in a small French town, Mitre’s elegant and slightly absurdist film surprised critics and confirmed Mitre’s wide-ranging talent a few months before Argentina, 1985 definitively established him as one of the country’s top-tier filmmakers.

Additional reporting by Facundo Iglesia

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