This is part of our ongoing coverage from the Buenos Aires Festival Internacional de Cine Independiente (BAFICI).
Buenos Aires is a wonderful city but it’s not exactly conducive to morning press screenings of the competing films. Due to Argentineans’ propensity to get the party started late and my personal obligation to attend such events (strictly in the name of investigative journalism, I’m sure you understand), I’ve fallen into a daily routine of arriving at the cinema in a progressively worse state than the previous morning.
That’s not to say I haven’t enjoyed checking out the BA party scene and making the most of the opportunity to meet hipster cinema bods. Nothing announces your film as a proper festival player like throwing a party in a city center bar, filling the place with attractive people and then standing around pouting like it’s all somehow beneath you.
There is also the small matter of the festival’s reception space, i.e. its free alcohol distribution zone, being located right next to the press room. This means that after submitting the latest BAFICI update, one is necessitated to get stuck into the free camparis and canapés. It’s dirty work, but somehow I get through it.
This seems a great idea at the time, but it results in some pretty shaky next-days. Inside the cinema, the groans emanating from my insides cause me to fold my arms tightly across my stomach in some sort of feeble attempt to muffle their echoes, lest the sound of groaning intestines distract my fellow cinema-goers from the poetic Taiwanese melodrama unfurling on the screen. Unfortunately, this action only succeeds in amplifying my discomfort to the entire auditorium. At least it’s dark in there.
While the contents of my body might be awkwardly displaced, the contents of the festival program have been resolutely solid, with many screenings sold out days in advance, particularly those in the international and Argentinean competitions. The films I have seen in both categories have reflected issues of modern relevance while finding a place for humor amid the topical commentary.
Ciencias Naturales (Natural Sciences), for example, is an Argentinean film about a young girl looking for her unknown father and the relationship she develops with the school teacher who helps in her quest. Then there is Raíz (Root), a Chilean film about a young boy looking for his unknown father and the relationship he develops with the young woman who helps in his quest. It’s a mixed old bag, alright.
Also gaining a lot of attention at BAFICI this year is Argentinean drama Algunas Chicas (Some Girls), directed by Santiago Polvecino, a sort of Apocalypse Now meets Clueless psychological thriller, as a group of women staying at a country house spiral ever deeper into nightmarish visions and darkly menacing tones while getting off with each other and taking cocaine. The sweeter side of casual drug abuse is found in Luis Lopez Carrasco’s fly-on-the-wall party reenactment El Futuro, set in 80s Madrid but which could just as easily be East London 2014 as a plethora of stylish young things get down in members-only jackets, fishnet gloves and watermelon-sized earrings. It’s a nice compliment to your own state of post-intoxication and features a storming soundtrack from epochal bands such as Flácidos Lunes and Ciudad Jardín.
Speaking of which, it’s not only on screen where the music flows. Daily gigs are a big part of festival life, with upcoming shows including Buenos Aires new wavers Babásonicos and an outdoors Beatles tribute concert. Not exactly my scene but festival organizers are a canny bunch. With the old ‘open bar’ trick, they certainly know how to twist your arm.