Remember Santiago Miter that a year after the brutal dictatorship of his country was settled, a civil court, not a military one, dared the unthinkable: judge the executioners of the greatest of affronts; of the most unreal, cruel and cowardly of crimes. He also remembers that while those most responsible for the genocide took the stand, that was it and the prosecutor made it clear Julio Strassera in his already historic allegation, the middle managers –those who with their own hands kidnapped, tortured, raped, humiliated and finally murdered– found themselves free alongside precisely the surviving victims. And what most strikes the Argentine director, above the seriousness and depth of the above, is that, despite the painful vividness of his memory, there are so few who still remember it. And so, ‘Argentina, 1985’.
And then there’s the recent bombing Cristina Fernández de Kirchner which does nothing more than add confusion to what has been experienced and to the film itself. Add the revelation that, in effect, in Argentina or here next door, and despite the passage of time, we have not moved from the site. Forgetting can memory. “It seemed,” reflects Miter, “that after what happened in the history of my country, violence, finally, had ceased to be an option. Well, the attack has returned us to the past.” And so.
Go ahead, it is one of those productions so attentive to the material they handle, so respectful of every word said and written, that at times they seem doomed to their fate of, as the poet would say, stoking their brains. And wake up. But it is precisely this utilitarian nature of a tool for the common good that makes it stand up and, most importantly, live. Someone could say that it belongs to that diffuse and necessarily clumsy genre of the necessary cinema and, even if it is only for once and without precedent, there is no other option but to agree with him.
‘Argentina, 1985’ it’s basically a movie that hurts. It hurts to listen to some of the 833 witnesses who recorded the misadventure of the more than 30,000 disappeared. Annoyed by its elemental appeal to the monstrous. It is even irritating because of the clarity with which it leaves shared oblivion in front of the viewer. Nothing seems to have been learned and the temptation to make the same mistakes is still there. But, above all, it hurts from simple and pure pain.
The script written by four hands between the director and the encyclopedic filmmaker Mariano Llins it just gets carried away. Or that’s the idea. What happened is so enormous, so hurtful, so literal, that what is understood by narration seems like another way of naming the imposture. The tortured go up to the platform of the trial and tell their tortures. The relatives of those who vanished remember the night in which the lives of theirs and their own were kidnapped. The judge reads what he once read before the entire universe (“Never again,” he concluded). And the dead attend. Let’s say that the only luxury that the film allows itself outside of the script that is its stubborn and dry script (so to speak) is the drift of some other memorable secondary (the prosecutor’s teenage son) and the crackling of the dialogues against the current in mouth of the always in its place Ricardo Darn. The rest is the essential and the essential is everything that at the time, in 1985, was the rest. And so.
It is true that the occasional excess of melodramatic convention What the redundant use of the judicial cliche. Miter abandons (or leaves aside, better) a good part of the findings of his most political filmography, such as the use of silence in ‘The student’ or the depth of the moral dilemma in his ‘remake’ of ‘The gang’ or the taste for labyrinths in ‘The range’. Now the frontality, the clarity and the instability of memory matter. And on this altar, perhaps a more elaborate, more particular, more miter look is sacrificed. Either way, the memory remains. They already want other passes. The memory remains and, most importantly, the pain remains.
MASTER PAUL SCHRADER
Beside him, the official section also presented up to three more films. All of them, without being definitive what is always aspired to in a festival, interesting. Definitely. In order of relevance to photographers, the first one was ‘Master Gardener’, the new work of paul schrader that out of competition will serve for the filmmaker to receive a prize of honor for his career. In it he completes the trilogy that he started with ‘The priest’ I continued with a firm step ‘The card counter’ and concludes with this story of a gardener more obsessive than faithful.
Joel Edgerton and one always majestic Sigourney Weaver They are the masters of ceremonies of this story -which in truth is already a ritual- of meticulous men in their respective trades (in order: priest, gambler and horticulturist) with a hunger for redemption due to a tremendously dark past. No one can accuse Schrader of improvising or seeking what is now called “a new experience.” The Smartbox Gift Boxes of the former screenwriter of ‘taxi drivers’ they never surprise. The result is, once again, a faithful x-ray of a common emptiness that has to do with guilt, grace and forgiveness. He sounds mystical and he is. It’s Schrader.
Much more risky, on the other hand, is the proposal of the Italian Andrea Palaoro. ‘monica‘, as before her the amazing and very crepuscular ‘Hanna‘, delves into the quiet mysteries of identity. In her previous tape, it was her loneliness—an elderly woman (majestic Charlotte Rampling) socially condemned for the sins of her husband—that served to chart a path essentially deep into the deepest and darkest. She now she is American transgender actress Trace Lisette the one that guides the steps to an existential adventure that has to do with family, recognition and, once again, who we are. Identity, let’s say.
Of a rigor of samuri, ‘monica‘ projects in a claustrophobic square format the image of a prison that very laboriously wants to also be liberation. The story is told of a woman who returns to her house after so many years to care for her sick mother. She meets her brother again, meets her grandchildren and her sister-in-law, and, above all, returns to the past. But she will do it dragging, with much suffering. Coherence is the main weapon of a film that is illuminated, precise and, in its mesmeric way, exciting.
Finally, the documentalist Laura Poitras present ‘All the beauty and the bloodshed’ (‘All Beauty and Bloodshed’, could be a mistranslation of the title taken from a quote from ‘Heart of Darkness’ by Joseph Conrad). The director of ‘citizenfour‘, the film that raised testimony to the work of Edward Snowden, now follow the photographer and activist Nan Goldin to recount at the same time and in parallel a long series of losses: that of the protagonist’s sister who committed suicide; that of many of the artists who shaped the scene of the 80s who fell for AIDS, and that of the more than 400,000 victims that the opiate OxyContin has caused thanks to the lack of scruples of the Sackler family (those in the book already know ‘The empire of pain’, of Patrick Radden Keef, which later was the series ‘dopesick‘ on Disney+).
Poitras manages so that this supposed lack of focus with so many stories one on top of the other becomes, precisely, the greatest achievement of a sad film and, again, full, but very full, of pain. It was, without a doubt, the theme of the day: pain, the pain of the pain itself.
According to the criteria of