Mar del Plata Film Festival unveils 38th edition

Argentina’s top film festival will focus on the 40th anniversary of the return of democracy

The Mar del Plata International Film Festival unveiled the programming for its 38th edition, which will take place from November 2 to 12. With a more austere format due to the country’s ongoing economic crisis, this edition will feature the topic Cinema and Democracy as a way of celebrating the 40th anniversary of the end of Argentina’s dictatorship and the return of democracy in 1983.

“The festival is a space of freedom and diversity, so it’s more alive than ever, and we are celebrating 40 years of democracy, 40 years without censorship,” said festival president Fernando Juan Lima during the presentation at the Belgrano Auditorium of the Foreign Ministry headquarters in Buenos Aires.

Festival director Pablo Conde revealed the opening film will be a newly restored version of René Mugica’s Hombre de la esquina rosada, a 1962 classic based on a famous Jorge Luis Borges short story. The closing night will feature Finnish filmmaker Aki Kaurismäki’s latest film, Fallen Leaves, winner of this year’s Jury Prize at the Cannes Film Festival.

During the presentation, Argentine filmmaker Adolfo Aristarain, whose films Martin (Hache) and Un lugar en el mundo will be part of the program, received a Lifetime Achievement Astor Award. Aristarain’s son Bruno, producer Osvaldo Papaleo, and Argentine rock star Fito Páez, a close friend of the filmmaker, received the award on his behalf.

“This is a very important recognition from a magnificent festival for a huge artist. This award is not just for him but for Argentina, because Adolfo always favored ideas over contexts. Today, his movies have remarkable strength and are mandatory [viewing] for anyone who loves cinema,” said Páez.

The 38th edition will offer seven official sections: International, Latin American, Argentine, Altered States, and In Transit / Work in Progress (WIP). The International Competition will feature eleven films, including three Argentine world premieres: Elena Knows (Anahí Berneri), Partió de mí un barco llevándome (Cecilia Kang), and Las almas (Laura Basombrío).

Other program highlights include The Society of the Snow, Netflix’s film about the 1972 “Andes Tragedy”, in which a plane carrying a team of young Uruguayan rugby players crashed in the Chilean Andes, and the survivors turned to cannibalism in order to survive 90 days in the mountains before being rescued. The film’s director, Juan Antonio Bayona (The Impossible, Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom) will attend the festival and give a masterclass.

The festival will also screen the latest from leading filmmakers such as Taika Waititi, Yorgos Lanthimos, Bertrand Bonello, Michel Gondry, Hong Sang-soo, Kleber Mendonça Filho, and Spanish auteur Víctor Erice in his return to film directing after three decades. 

The work of Argentine directors Ana Katz and Esteban Sapir will also be featured in one section. Other local highlights include the most recent films by Lisandro Alonso, Martín Rejtman, Andrés Di Tella, Edgardo Cozarinsky, and Demian Rugna (director of When Evil Lurks, winner of the Sitges Film Festival). 

As part of the festival’s aim of celebrating the return of democracy, the National Film Institute’s Cinematheque and its Library and Documentation and Archive Center have recovered excerpts of films censored by the last civil-military dictatorship from the Film Rating Board’s archive. The footage will be screened as part of the festival’s programming.

The festival will also publish the book Fade to Black. Cinema and Censorship 40 Years after The Return of Democracy, a collection of articles written by several authors, among them renowned actress Graciela Borges (who will give a masterclass during the festival), producer Lita Stantic, directors Manuel Antín, Albertina Carri and Victoria Solanas, as well as former Supreme Court Chief Justice Eugenio Zaffaroni.

“When we celebrate 40 years of uninterrupted democracy, it is truly essential that we value the role of the state as a promoter of our culture and cultural industries, which provide jobs and resources to our country,” said Paula Vazquez, head of Cultural Affairs at the Foreign Ministry.

The full program and schedule can be found on the festival’s website. All films are subtitled, and tickets can be purchased online. Tickets cost AR$400, with a 50% discount for students and senior citizens.


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