France-Chile 2004, 100 min.
Introduced by Richard Peña. Program Director, Film Society of Lincoln Center.
This year’s festival features the work of one of Latin America’s greatest documentary filmmakers, Patricio Guzmán, whose moving personal portrait of Chilean president Salvador Allende culminates the series on Chile he started with the seminal epic, Battle of Chile, screened at the first festival. Guzmán chronicled, day by dramatic day, the last year of the brief rule of Latin America’s first democratically-elected Socialist president, who was overthrown by a bloody military coup on September 11 of 1973. He now returns to the original material shot during those heady days with the added perspective of time and memory. Guzmán pretends to nothing other than “having been there” but his presence behind the camera informs with rare insight and emotion this spellbinding first-hand account of an extraordinary era.
O fim e o principio
("The End and the Beginning")
Brazil 2005, 110 min.
O fim e o principio is the latest film by the master of the Brazilian documentary, Eduardo Coutinho, who has redefined the basic rules of the genre with his unusual interview techniques, as seen in a vast oeuvre that ranges from the modern classic of 1984 Cabra marcado para morrer to the recent Peões, also screened at Princeton. His name remains almost a secret in the United States, but his work places him at the vanguard of world cinema. Now in his 70s and very much at the peak of his game, Coutinho puts into practice a bold experiment in documentary method in his new film, setting out on the backroads of the sertão in the Brazilian North East, with absolutely no prior research or preparation, simply in search of people and stories. By the end, he too will have been able to say “I was there” and the audience will have felt they have been on the same exhilarating journey as the filmmaker.
Yo no sé qué me han hecho tus ojos
("I Don't Know What Your Eyes Have Done To Me")
Sergio Wolf & Lorena Muñoz
Argentina 2003, 75 min.
Alongside the work of the accomplished masters, as always, the festival highlights the vitality and renewal of the genre as understood by younger Latin American filmmakers, showcasing two of the best documentaries to have come out of the region in recent years, Toro negro, from Mexico, and Yo no sé qué me han hecho tus ojos, from Argentina. Ada Falcón was at the height of her fame as one of the great stars of the golden era of tango, in the swinging Buenos Aires of the1940s, when she suddenly and inexplicably retired to live as a nun in a remote convent, never again to reappear in public. Many years later, directors Sergio Wolf and Lorena Muñoz set out to trace the legendary singer and disentangle the myths surrounding her fate. While striking a delicate poise between mystery and revelation, they recreate a lost world through clues and documents found in unlikely places. But the twists and turns of their utterly absorbing investigation ultimately bear witness to nothing other than the deceitful mechanisms of memory and the complicated relation of Argentina with its own past. Followed by discussion with Sergio Wolf.
Pedro González Rubio and Carlos Armella
Mexico 2005, 87 min.
Fernando Pacheco, aka El Suicida, is a young bullfighter who doesn't fight in the great arenas of Mexico, but rather in the popular festivals of the small Mayan communities of the Yucatan Peninsula. With unbelievable, and at times disturbing closeness, the filmmakers Pedro González-Rubio and Carlos Armella follow Pacheco’s life in and out of the bullring. The camera stays relentlessly on its subject, in alcohol and drug-induced flirts with death, and even in crude scenes of domestic violence. The personal relationship established between filmmaker and subject, in this and the other films we are presenting, provides fresh insight into the realities depicted, as it questions old assumptions about the documentary form. It also raises difficult questions about witnessing and responsibility that should be of immediate concern to all of us in current times. Followed by discussion with Carlos Armella. Book presentation and discussion with Paul Firbas and Pedro Meira Monteiro (editors).
Conversación en Princeton
Andrés Di Tella: Cine documental y archivo personal
Screening of Fotografías, a work-in-progress by Andrés Di Tella.
The latest publication in the Conversación en Princeton series, focused on the work of Argentine filmmaker Andrés Di Tella, serves as a pretext for the continuing debate around issues of the documentary genre, as developed during previous editions of the Princeton Documentary Festival. Followed by reception.