Albertina Carri and the Salvation of Making Movies

in 31st Mar del Plata International Film Festival

by Mariangel Solomita

The courage of a director like Albertina Carri, who continues to make documentaries putting her hopes, nightmares, frustrations, scars, and commitments on show, is admirable. Carri uses her personal life as the raw material for her work, making movies to heal the damned legacy of two missing parents, an unloving upbringing in the countryside, and a youth in which she began filming to try and rebuild her memory and get rid of her anger. Even today, 16 years after the premiere of Los Rubios, she cannot avoid retelling aspects of her own story in the ones she chooses to narrate.

For Cuatreros, the driving force was Isidro Velázquez, a cuatrero (cattle-rustler) from Corrientes. Isidro settled in in Chaco with his brother, who usually had problems with the police. In 1967, after being pursued for years, a friend betrayed Isidro and the army shot him in his car. Since then, several musicians have written songs about him and filmmakers such as Mariano Llinás have tried to make him the subject of their movies, almost always without success.

“Cuatreros is a film that is impossible to describe, although I think it is a genre film. Do not try to understand it at all because it is impossible. Watch it as a hypnotic trip,” Carri tells the audience before the movie begins. The film is composed of 99% archival footage, with images recovered from 60s and 70s newsreels, movies, TV shows and advertisements. The voice of the director accompanies the entire story while the screen is divided into three, creating interaction between different groups of images.

“This work wants to be a bridge between the living and the dead,” says Carri in one of the scenes. The movie is like a newspaper, a chronicle of how she wanted to make the film. Over 88 minutes, Carri tells us what her goal was, who she talked to, what news she discovered, and discusses film figures such as producer Lita Stantic and her vanished husband Pablo Szir (who made a film about Velázquez), collector Fernando Martín Peña (who is also this festival’s artistic director), Mariano Llinás, Lucía Cedrón and her father, filmmaker Jorge Cedrón (also a victim of the dictatorship), and finally, Roberto Carri: her murdered father, who had written a book about Velázquez.

At times the film becomes a historical labyrinth, plagued with information and political interpretations which sift through Argentinean memory, but then it takes on the form of an escape. It finally becomes a testimony of the director’s own life – a woman who has just become a mother, thinks about separating from her wife, and who feels drawn in by the presence of her parents, confessing that it is them she seeks among those she profiles. Once again, Albertina Carri is responsible for one of the most courageous, committed and creative films of the program.

Edited by Lesley Chow