The 38th annual International Mar del Plata Film Festival drew to a close on Sunday after a 10-day celebration of cinema affected by budget cuts amid a steep economic crisis.
The festival, which is publicly funded, has been hit with budgetary shortcomings due to the economic crisis ravaging Argentina, where inflation is running at more than 140 percent per annum and more than 40 percent of the population is mired in poverty.
The ongoing turmoil – and political uncertainty due to next week's presidential run-off – were evident and forced festival authorities to reduce the number of titles in the programming, available rooms, screenings and number of VIP guests compared to other years.
Mar del Plata, Latin America's only top class festival on the global circuit, is an essential part of giving a wider audience to independent filmmakers such as Julian D'Angiolillo, whose documentary Ongoing Cave explores the mysteries of caves, caverns and anti=war bunkers in Italy, Slovenia and Cuba.
“Hopefully it can continue, this edition I understand was very difficult to carry out. The human factor was decisive, something that could be perceived in the support and enthusiasm of the public in each of the screenings. It is a much-loved festival and hopefully this edition will serve as a springboard for it to grow again and improve in future editions,” he said.
D'Angiolillo's film had its second premiere at the festival that he calls “historically the most important festival in the country." The "possibility of premiering here, I think, is the best calling card for the Argentine public,” he explained.
This year’s edition ran from November 2-12 and included screenings of films and appearances by filmmakers from Argentina and across the world.
Peruvian film Kinra took home the Astor Piazzolla Award for Best Feature-Length Film. It tells the story of indigenous Peruvians’ journey from the rural to urban environment. The first feature length film by the director Marco Panatonic was hailed as “a true discovery” by the festival’s jury.
Films were shown at four separate cinemas: three in the city of Mar del Plata, located in the south of the Buenos Aires Province, as well as in Teatro Colón in Buenos Aires city.
The showings at the Teatro Colón and at Espacio Unzué, a recreation and cultural centre in Mar del Plata, were free of charge and tickets were made available one hour before screenings began.
On Saturday at Espacio Unzué, the festival hosted a day of activities including screenings of short films, animated and live action, as well as a tent set up by the INCAA (Instituto Nacional de Cine y Artes Audiovisuales) that offered visitors access to VR headsets.
Cesar Delgado, a technical supervisor for the INCAA described the centre as a “playful space” in which, “we had set up during the week a dubbing-booth where people could come and dub films [...] and also a green screen chroma, a chroma here so that people could play with it, with the backgrounds and make special effects.”
He reported that on Friday the centre had over 2,500 guests from the public attend.
Despite a decrease in the number of actors and filmmakers that were able to attend this year, the festival included an appearance by the director and leading cast members of the Argentine film No Me Rompan. They appeared for a Q&A session following an outdoor screening of the film in Mar del Plata Saturday night in which they took questions from the crowd.
One of the viewers that night was a young girl who asked the cast’s advice on how to be an actress, calling them a “good example” for aspiring young actresses like herself.
The cast spoke about their hope of making a film that would connect with young girls such as herself. Actress Julieta Díaz said “I think we wanted to reflect women like our cousins, sisters, aunts. And not those crying, always asking to be rescued. The reality is that here we rescue ourselves.”
Co-star Eugenia Guerty, said further, “I think it's great to show these women who are angry, that things happen to them and that they always want us women not to get angry, make ourselves ugly, but the truth is that it's a feeling that shouldn't be annulled either.”