Two Ways of Seeing Buenos Aires By Lotfi Ben Khelifa

in 19th Toulouse Rencontres des Cinémas d'Amérique Latine

by Lotfi Ben Khelifa

Through two Argentinean films – Hernan Gaffet’s City in Heat (Ciudad en Cielo) and Augusto Gonzalez Polo’s Capital (Capital: Todo El Mundo va a Buenos Aires) – presented in the competition of the 19 th Rencontres Cinémas d’Amérique Latine in Toulouse; from March 16 to 25, 2007, we are presented with two very different exercises in how to love, and how to hate, this particular metropolis.

City in Heat, presented in the “Coup de coeur-Competition”, shot in 35mm, spends one hour and forty-four minutes on a narration full of irony, creating a moving and optimistic comedy in an anecdotal style. Set largely in a bar, the film adopts a musical rhythm, the Garlington music mixed between the Tango of Gardel and the Jazz of Ellington. Love and life are the jewels of the story: In spite of various problems and impediments, life continues optimistically, without any complication. In his first full-length feature, Hernan Gaffet demonstrates a distinct vision.

In Capital, presented in the Découverte (Discovery) Competition, shot on video with a much lower budget and a mobile camera, we find a discordant vision of Buenos Aires in the evocation of uprooted young people. In an astonishing contradiction of convention, the film has little envy for its hero, who lives at a disconnect with the world. The director uses a fast rhythm to tell the story with a pronounced disregard for technique: Has he made a bad film? It’s a hard choice to do a crazy film showing the young people down and out. Everyone loves Buenos Aires, but the hero has a new perspective on this city and its daily life. In spite of his disorientation, he slowly comes to love Buenos Aires. The performance of Alfonso Tort in this movie is lovable, and director Polo reaches for elegance in his imagery. Capital seems to be a film without sense or real intention. But hating Buenos Aires is a great and strange feeling that the director succeeds in doing it, with sobriety and flash.

The two films dedicated to Buenos Aires have opposing ideas about it, giving one the opportunity to consider the capital of Argentina as seen through the eyes of two very different young directors – both of whom belong firmly to the new generation of Latin American filmmakers.