Part found footage project, part parody, and part romantic comedy, El año pasado en Mardelplá, by Argentine filmmaking duo Santiago Korovsky and Celeste Contratti, is a spoof on the classic Alain Resnais film of 1961 Last Year at Marienbad.
At the Mar del Plata Film Festival, a lonely and lovelorn cinephile searches for a woman he met there the year before, a woman who incidentally also had tickets to sold-out screenings (an experience any festivalgoer can relate to as desperation sets in amid diminished ticket availability). His search leads him to places not normally frequented by festival attendants and to enlist the help of unlikely allies. The film has laughs for industry insiders, fans of the French New Wave, and casual film viewers alike.
Shot in black and white, the short uses excerpts from the original dialogue of the French film as the main engine and through-line of the story. Our hero’s desperate chase is intercut with inserts that allude to his muse and to their fabled encounter. These breaks in continuity stay true to the intentions of La Nouvelle Vague: to renounce notions of film language that had become standard by the 1960s and to create work that was decidedly modern. There’s not only one but two sets of subtitles running side by side, for that extra European art-house feel.
At four minutes, not unlike the Resnais original, this short feels twice as long, but in a good way. It is successful precisely in its economy; unlike other parodies found across the web, Mardelplá doesn’t attempt to be a faithful replica nor does it linger to make sure you got the joke.