by Benjamin Harguindey, contributing blogger
Come April 10th the BAFICI (“Buenos Aires Festival International de Cine Independiente”) will begin its 15th edition under the direction of critic Mario Panozzo, taking over writer Sergio Wolf’s four-year tenure as artistic director. The specifics were made public at a press conference last March 26th: the festival will be projecting over 400 films, beginning with Chile’s Oscar-nominated No on opening night and ending April 21st with the French Au bout de conte.
Festival films will take over regular programming at the traditional spots of Teatro San Martín, Centro Cultural San Martín, Fundación PROA, Malba Cine, Cine Cosmos and at the Planetarium. As usual, free showings will be conducted “out in the open” at Anfiteatro Parque Centenario. Of worthy mention, the Arte Multiplex Belgrano will be reopening after being shut down for nearly a year, while the bulk of the competition will be screened at Village Recoleta Mall.
As usual, competition will run on three sections – International (with 20 films), Argentine (with 15 films) and “Vanguard and Genre” (with 24 films) – a section called Panorama, featuring over 100 films from BAFICI’s round of usual suspects, and among whom you may recognize the ever prolific Hong Sang-soo, Abbas Kiarostami, Takeshi Kitano, Olivier Assayas and Naomi Kawase, all of whom will be releasing their latest productions.
Kiarostami and Kitano’s films have already sold out at the box office – at a whopping 2-day record – as have some of Hong’s films, who is fortunately not only screening his latest work, but his whole oeuvre. The man himself was officially scheduled to show up for a public tete-a-tete on April 18th, but a recent back injury has put that thought on hold for the moment.
Other traditional sections within the festival include WIP (Work in Progress), where up-and-coming directors show just how far they’ve made it into their filmmaking, as well as a sizeable selection of short films.
Pablo Trapero, of the local scene, is directing a trifecta of short films called Mar (Sea), Tierra (Earth) and Cielo(Sky) to head each projection; his iconic film debut Mundo Grúa (Crane World, 1999) will also be re-released in tandem with a selection of his short feature filmography.
Another local big name, Adolfo Aristarain – director of embittered and daring films made in the dusk of the Dictatorship, such as Tiempo de revancha (Time for a Rematch, 1981), as well as some of Argentina’s most famed cult classics with leading man Federico Luppi – will also be screening the whole of his filmography. Well, all but one of his twelve films. The Stranger (1987), a quaint co-production with the USA starring Bonnie Bedelia (John McClane’s estranged wife), never got an official release in the country, and the BAFICI will not be the exception, as Panozzo confirmed to a somewhat disappointed audience. Apparently Aristarain keeps a single final cut of the movie on VHS, and is unobtainable for all intents and purposes.
This year’s BAFICI is certainly looking lively. It just may break last year’s record of 350,000 moviegoers and 230,000 ticket sale.
Speaking of ticket sales – these started April 2nd at $20 each ($15 for students and elders). They can be purchased for an extra $3 each through www.buenosaires.gob.ar/festivales, or personally at either Village Recoleta Mall (Vicente López y Junín) or Casa de la Cultura (Av. de Mayo 575), from 10 to 20 hs, for an extra $4 each (these fees are knocked off with the purchase of ten or more tickets). For more info, visit http://festivales.buenosaires.gob.ar/bafici/home13/web/es/index.html.