Argentine Film Festival @ London Ritzy. 19th – 22nd April

We’re delighted to reveal our programme for the UK’s first ever Argentine Film Festival, which features a selection of the best contemporary films from & about Argentina screened exclusively in London. Our opening film is Sebastián Borenzstein´s box-office hit CHINESE TAKE-AWAY starring the one and only Ricardo Darín. 

Tickets are now on sale via the Ritzy Box Office 0871 902 5739 or through their website. All films screenings will be at Ritzy Cinema (Brixton Oval, Coldharbour Lane, SW2 1JG)

Festival Programme:

Thursday April 19th * 8:30pm – Chinese Takeaway                                            Ricardo Darin charms once again as the malcontent whose life is abruptly transformed when he’s forced to take in a Chinese lodger. Roberto (Ricardo Darín) is a disgruntled hardware store owner whose main pastime is the collection of odd and sensational stories to paste into his cuttings book.Roberto’s lonely existence is disrupted when Jun (Ignacio Huang), a Chinaman recently arrived in Buenos Aires but unable to speak a word of Spanish, stumbles into his path. Roberto suddenly finds himself the custodian of this stranger as he’s unwillingly caught up in the man’s search to find his only remaining family. Sebastián Borensztein’s endearing comedy has all the elements of the bizarre that make it a “Chinese Story” (the film’s original title which refers to an unlikely or far-fetched tale) but it is Darin’s central performance that has guaranteed the film’s international success.

Director: Sebastián Borensztein. Cast: Ricardo Darín, Muriel Santa Ana and Ignacio Huang.
Country: Argentina-Spain. Writer: Sebastián Borensztein. Running time: 93min. Year: 2011 

.Friday April 20th * 4:30pm – Las Acacias                                                                        An Argentine truck driver, Rubén, is returning to Buenos Aires from Paraguay. At the border he picks up a woman, Jacinta, and her five-month-old girl, having agreed with his boss to take them to the capital. At first Rubén is a reluctant benefactor, brusque and uninterested in his passengers or their comfort. But as the hours and miles pass, this lonely, taciturn man starts to come out of his shell, and finds a passenger willing to meet him in the middle. Would romance be too much to expect, for either of them? Writer/director Pablo Giorgelli’s multi award-winning first feature is in the vein of the realist, decidedly minimalist drama of lower class life that characterises one of the strongest strands of recent Argentine cinema. If following in the footsteps of such filmmakers as Lisandro Alonso, Carlos Sorín and Pablo Trapero might seem a tad bold, Giorgelli has enough integrity and class to overcome comparisons. With his camera rarely leaving the truck, and the faces of the protagonists, the film becomes a deeply affecting exercise in human mapping. Win 2 free tickets to this screening via Latinos in London – send your name & contact details to & quote “Las Acacias 20/4“.

Director: Pablo Giorgelli. Cast: German De Silva, Hebe Duarte, Nayra Calle Mamani.
Country: Argentina-Canada. Writer: Pablo Giorgelli – Salvador Roselli. Year: 2011 


Friday April 20th * 6:20pm – Caprichosos de San Telmo                            Londoners might feel a rumble of recognition when watching the protagonists of the documentary Caprichosos de San Telmo, for there are undoubted comparisons between the young murga musicians and dancers preparing for carnival in Buenos Aires, and those who participate in our own Notting Hill Carnival – certainly in the way that performance creates a powerful neighbourhood bond.

British/Canadian filmmaker Alison Murray follows the cab driver, father figure to many and chief murguero Hector Roterio, aka “Pichi”, as he prepares his troupe from the colourful San Telmo neighbourhood. Pichi also provides an informed history of murga, the carnival tradition with its percussion-led rhythms, acrobatic dance moves and exuberant costumes, which was started by African slaves and is now an essential form of expression for many working class Argentines. We also meet struggling family man Sergio, buffeted from one menial job to another, yet an unencumbered star when dancing the murga; Matias, who the murga has saved from an ill-spent life on the streets; matriarch Graciela, whose whole family is involved in the carnival; and Maria Eva, an office clerk who lives for dance. Through their stories Murray offers a bitter-sweet snapshot of lower-class life in a crisis-ridden Argentina. Win 2 free tickets to this screening via Latinos in London – send your name & contact details to & quote “Caprichosos 20/4“.

Director: Alison Murray. Cast: Hector Roterio, Graciela Macier, Sergio Pasquin, Matias Ampolo, Maria Eva Diaz, Gabriel Acevedo. Country: Argentina-Canada. Writer: Alison Murray. Running time: 72min. Year: 2011. 

*Following the screening, get ready for a night of Latin beats Upstairs at the Ritzy, where DJ Sergio Schuchinsky will take us on a musical tour of Argentina’s coolest sounds: cumbia, candombe, murga, Latin house and electro folk.


Friday April 20th * 8:00pm – Chinese Takeaway  (see programme for Thursday April 19th)


Friday April 20th * 10:00pm – Absent                                                                   Enigmatic gay drama weaves a mysterious web of lust, guilt and repression. When 16-year-old schoolboy Martín (Javier De Pietro) gets something in his eye during swimming class, his coach Sebastían (Carlos Echevarría) dutifully takes him to the doctor. It proves to be nothing. Afterwards, the lad has one excuse after another, from lost keys to a grandmother who has gone out for the night, to contrive a stop-over at the teacher’s apartment. While it’s blindingly obvious that the boy has a crush, and is a liar to boot, Sebastían seems oblivious. He is entering dangerous waters.

Winner of the Teddy Award (for films with LGBT topics) at the Berlin Film Festival, Marco Berger’s film teases expectations: is this going to be a gay romance, a social melodrama about an illicit relationship, a stalker thriller – or possibly all of those? While his affecting plot keeps us on our toes (and contains a surprise that is all the more shocking for being so day-to-day), Berger creates an enigmatic, seductive atmosphere – of furtive glances and narcissistic preening, a moody melange of lust, guilt, anger and repression.

Director: Marco Berger. Cast: Carlos Echevarria, Javier De Pietro, Antonella Costa.
Country: Argentina. Writer: Marco Berger. Running time: 87 min. Year: 2011 


Saturday April 21st * 3:00pm – Medianeras                                                                    A romantic comedy with a nod to Woody Allen’s Manhattan where boy fails to meet girl across the crowded cityscape of twenty-first century Buenos Aires. Martín (Javier Drolas) is a web designer addicted to gaming who won’t leave his shoe-box apartment. He’s seeing a psychiatrist twice a week in the hope of tackling his panic attacks, listlessness, neurosis, insecurity and stress. His girlfriend left her dog with him for a few weeks when she left for the US but she never returned so Martín has both the pet and the phobias to deal with. Mariana (Pilar López de Ayala) is an architect now working as a window dresser who has just broken up with her partner after a four-year relationship. She too has her phobias and foibles — including a fear of lifts and an obsession with ‘Where’s Wally?’ books. Martín and Mariana live close to each other only in the madness of the twenty-first century urban metropolis, it’s all too easy to miss the person across the street when you’re looking for love. Argentine director Gustavo Taretto’s debut feature is a quirky, unconventional romantic comedy set against the backdrop of contemporary Buenos Aires. Art, angst and architecture are imaginatively brought together in a witty, playful homage to a stylish city and its idiosyncratic inhabitants. Win 2 free tickets to this screening via Latinos in London – send your name & contact details to & quote “Medianeras 21/4“.

Director: Gustavo Taretto. Cast: Pilar López de Ayala, Javier Drolas, Inés Efrón, Carla Peterson, Rafa Ferro, Adrián Navarro. Country: Argentina-Germany-Spain. Writer:
Gustavo Taretto. Running time: 95min. Year: 2011. 


Saturday April 21st * 5:00pm – The Last Summer of La Boyita              Executively produced by Pedro Almodóvar, Julia Solomonoff’s exquisitely shot feature is an exploration of burgeoning sexuality amidst the stunning backdrop of the Argentine countryside. For young Jorgelina, the holidays have always consisted of days spent playing with her older sister, and secrets shared in La Boyita, their little bubble-shaped caravan at the end of the garden. But with the onset of puberty, Luciana no longer wants her little sister tagging along behind her and cramping her style: Jorgelina has no choice but to accept the situation, and find alternative entertainment.

A summer on her father’s farm seems to be the answer, and she soon adapts to the new routine, swimming and riding horses with local farm-boy Mario. But as the two children (beautifully portrayed by Guadalupe Alonso and Nicolás Treise) become closer, with Jorgelina increasingly protective of her new friend, she notices Mario is undergoing some changes of his own, which undermime his ability to prove himself in the tough macho culture that surrounds him. Win 2 free tickets to this screening via Latinos in London – send your name & contact details to & quote “Boyita 21/4“.

Director: Julia Solomonoff. Cast: Guadalupe Alonso, Nicolás Treise, Mirella Pascual, Gabo Correa, Guillermo Pfenning. Country: Argentina-Spain-France. Writer: Julia Solomonoff. Running time: 86min. Year: 2009. 


Saturday April 21st * 7:00pm – Back to Stay (Abrir puertas y Ventanas)            A triple prize winner at Locarno, Milagros Mumenthaler’s story of three sisters coping with the death of their grandmother offers an original take on the coming of age tale. Three sisters live in a large house that has seen better days. Marina (María Canale) is industrious and focused on her studies, Sofía (Martina Juncadella) is vain and overly preoccupied with her appearance and the languid Violeta (Ailín Salas) drifts from room to room in a state of general aimlessness. It slowly becomes apparent that they are home alone dealing with the sudden death of the grandmother who raised them. Milagros Mumenthaler’s striking debut feature, winner of the Pardo d’Oro, the best actress award (for María Canale) and the FIPRESCI award at Locarno, adroitly entices the viewer into the bickering, broken world of these three bewildered women.

While Chekhov comes to mind as a reference point, the rundown house emerges as its own character – much as in Martel’s The Swamp — shaping the mood and dynamics of the film. Mumenthaler beautifully maps what grief means for each of the three protagonists and how they handle the void left in their lives by their grandmother’s absence. Back to Stay is both a striking, exquisitely performed coming of age film and a salient study of loss.

Director: Milagros Mumenthaler. Cast: María Canale, Martina Juncadella, Ailín Salas Julián Tello. Country: Argentina-Switzerland. Writer: Milagros Mumenthaler. Running time: 98min. Year: 2011


Saturday April 21st * 9:05pm – The Mugger (El asaltante)                                       An imaginative documentary captures life in hidden corners of Buenos Aires and a gripping thriller offers one of the best examples of the informal new wave known as New Argentine Cinema.

The generation of young filmmakers who emerged from Argentina’s film schools in the late 1990s rejuvenated their country’s then ailing cinema. Some crafted a return to neo-realism, using hand-held cameras and non-professional actors, in order to address a society reeling from one crisis to another; others were minimalist, or comedic, or baroque. The common thread was not style, but resourcefulness, and talent. Lucrecia Martel, Pablo Trapero and Martín Rejtman may be the best-known figures from this generation of innovators, but with The Mugger Pablo Fendrik crafts a muscular, timely film that stands comparison with the very best work of his illustrious contemporaries.

With his spare, taut, claustrophobic day-in-the-life of an intriguing criminal, El asaltante, Pablo Fendrik made one of the more auspicious debuts in the informal new wave known as New Argentine Cinema. This compelling thriller follows an ageing villain (Arturo Goetz) as he speeds around Buenos Aires robbing school offices. In the same way as the late Fabian Bielinsky, of Nine Queens fame, Fendrik revelled in making a genre film with bells on. His style, the camera glued to the face and movements of his resourceful but also panicking protagonist, raises the adrenalin so considerably that the film needs no more than its 70 minutes. And like Nine Queens, which touched on Argentine’s crippling economic crisis of the early 2000s, Fendrik’s film chimed with real life events. Based on a news item, its release in Argentina in 2007 also coincided with a spate of school strikes, which makes its plot – and in particular the sting in the tale – all the more resonant. Goetz, hitherto a sweet-faced favourite of Argentine cinema, was given a new lease of life by Fendrik as a villain. The result is a mesmerising performance, rewarded with a prize at the Buenos Aires film festival.

Director: Pablo Fendrik. Cast: Arturo Goetz, Bárbara Lombardo, Germán de Silva.
Country: Argentina. Writer: Pablo Fendrik. Running time: 70min. Year: 2007


Sunday April 22nd * 3:00pm – Back to Stay (Abrir puertas y Ventanas) (see programme for Saturday April 21st)

From live guitar performances to the urban rhythms of electro tango the musical tour of Argentina continues with an event tracing the history of tango.  After the screening of a selection of short films from Argentina’s largely unknown silent film era – including a riotous comedy set in the tango underworld – the tango theme continues in the bar Upstairs at the Ritzy with live music and a display of Argentine tango including traditional tango de salon, social tango (danced in the milongas) and tango nuevo (modern or electro tango).


Sunday April 22nd * 8:00pm – Medianeras  (see programme for Saturday April 21st)

Gustavo Taretto’s MEDIANERAS will close the Argentine Film Festival, and is a romantic comedy with a nod to Woody Allen’s Manhattan where boy fails to meet girl across the crowded cityscape of twenty-first century Buenos Aires.
All ticket holders to the MEDIANERAS screening will receive a complimentary glass of Tilia Malbec or Tilia Salta Torrontes. wine after the film in the bar Upstairs at the Ritzy where the night will continue with more electro tango sounds.

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