Abutted by Andes in the west and Atlantic Ocean to the east, the 2.7 million sq. kms land known as Argentina is rich in biodiversity and diverse in terrain. Equally rich is their culture and their cinema. Argentina is one of the top three film producing nations of the Latin America, along with Mexico and neighbours Brazil. Their films have to their name the prestigious Goya Awards and the Academy Awards. Films like El Viaje (1992), The Official Story (1985) will always be remembered as gems in cinematic universe.
Eugene Py was the man who is credited to make the first cinema of the country in 1897, La Bandera Argentina (The Argentine Flag). Along with the technological progress of the then infant industry, artistic ideas were also budding at par. Amalia (1914) was the first feature film produced within the country and El Apostol, an animated feature by Quirino Cristiani, in 1917 was the first animated film in the whole world. At the beginning of the 30s when sound was introduced for the first time in the film medium, Adios Argentina completed in 1930, was the first flick to have a soundtrack with its film. 1931 was a landmark for the film industry of Argentina; Luis Maglia Barth made the film, Tango, which had the sound embedded on the film itself for the first time in the country. It also introduced “Tango Dancing” in Argentine cinema and gave rise to a number of stars. The films during the rule of Juan Peron were slightly propagandist: showing the poor as beneficiaries and some other themes of his ideology. Censorship also rose during that time affecting the growth of cinema as an art form.
In the 50s new ideas flourished as a new generation of filmmakers evolved placing, Argentine cinema prominently on the world map. Noticeable among them was Leopoldo Torre Nilsson, who came into international reputation with La Casa del Angel (1957). His films set out a castigating critique of Argentina’s bourgeois values. Tire Die (1958), a short, is believed to be the first social documentary of the Latin America. Fernando Solanas along with Octavio Getino made La Hora des los Hornos (1968), a three part documentary defending revolution and proposed a manifesto of the notion of Third Cinema. This active chapter came to an end with the military takeover in 1976 which started a severe censorship, blacklisting of artists, even their exile.
The rise (rebirth for some) of auteurs occurred alongside the onset of democracy in 1983. The Official Story (1985) by Luis Puenzo dealing with those disappeared during the military junta, won the Academy Award for Best Foreign Film; the first for Argentina. The 1990s brought another change in style of the films of Argentine directors, marked by classical cinema and a twist from Independent Argentine production. In 1992 Solanas, the activist filmmaker, made El Viaje, giving surrealist impression of the Argentine social life. In the late 90s films voicing social issues were frequent.
Nine Queens (2001), Son of the Bride (2001), El Aura (2005) made in the first years of the new millennium, gathered international praise. Solanas made the much acclaimed, Memories of Riot (2004) on the economic crisis of 2001. Trial by Fire (2005), Chronicle of An Escape (2006) dealing with Falklands War and a group of footballers escaping certain death respectively were also received cordially by international viewers. The decade ended on a high after The Secret in Their Eyes (2009) won the best film at Goya and the Academy Awards in Foreign category, making Argentina the only nation to win two Academy Best Foreign Films in Latin America. Damian Szifron wrote and directed Relatos Salvajes (2014) meaning Wild Tales comprising six shorts on a common theme of dark humour. It won the Goya Best Foreign film and got nominated to the Oscars.
This is a brief historical look at the films of a country which has gifted many rare jewels of cinema over the last century, in terms of films, actors and filmmakers and we hope they continue giving us the pleasure of admiring their artistic creations till eternity.