Still image from the film

La televisión y yo

("Television and Me")

A free-form essay on Television and memory. Shuttling back and forth from history to autobiography, the filmmaker starts out with his first personal recollections of television (a broadcast of a military coup), moving on to explore early memories of television in Argentina and the figure of Jaime Yankelevich, the Jewish immigrant that became a pioneer of local television in the time of Perón and Evita. The story of the rise and fall of Yankelevich is interwoven through a play of mirrors with that of the author’s own grandfather, Torcuato Di Tella, another immigrant who built an industrial empire that subsequently vanished. The saga of the two families seems to embody the former aspirations of Argentina, which ended in the lost dream of a nation.

Still image from the film

Viva São João! 

("Hoorray Saint John!")

The festival of St. John is the most important popular cultural event in the interior of Brazil, with special significance in the Northeast. The great Bahian musician Gilberto Gil undertakes a journey back to the roots of his music, encountering old songs and traditions and meeting the representatives of a street culture that, in the midst of poverty, remains the richest of civilizations. Andrucha Waddington used this same setting for his previous film, “Eu, tu, eles”, one of the international successes of current Brazilian cinema. Gilberto Gil composed the soundtrack for that film, based on interpretations of traditional music from the Northeast and, in particular, the compositions of the legendary Luiz Gonzaga, the king of “Baiao”. From that collaboration was born the idea of creating a documentary focusing on the popular celebrations of the festival of St. John, that would convey in cinematic terms the vitality of the music and the culture. Gil describes the result “as if they had put a slice of my genetic code on the screen”.

still from the film Um Passaporte Hungaro

Um Passaporte Hungaro

("A Hungarian Passport")

Speaking over the telephone with the Hungarian consulate, the Brazilian filmmaker Sandra Kogut asks, “Can someone who has a Hungarian grandfather obtain a Hungarian passport?” The bureaucrat on the other end of the line is confused, “Yes…it’s possible…but why do you want a Hungarian passport?” The filmmaker asks for the list of necessary documents, but the employee still doesn’t understand why she would want to become Hungarian. The administrative process – obtaining a passport – becomes the conducting thread of the film. Kogut creates a kind of private journal of her trips to and from Brazil, Hungary, and France, her present home, recording the Kafkaesque experience of her frustrating and often hysterical attempts to jump through the necessary bureaucratic hoops. On the way, she explores a painful family history of forced emigration and the pervasive effects of racism. At the same time, she confronts some essential questions: What is nationality? What is a passport for? What should we do with our heritage? How do we construct our history and our own identity?

movie still from En Construccion

En construcción

("Work in Progress")

Over three years, José Luis Guerín recorded with obsessive rigor the demolition of an entire section of the Barrio Chino, a crumbling working-class neighborhood in Barcelona, and the construction of a modern residential complex for the new Catalan middle-class. But as the construction of the city of the future proceeds, the past reasserts itself over and over again: as much in the eerie discovery of an ancient Roman cemetery below the foundations of the new building as in the rich cultural lore revealed in a casual conversation between two old neighbors. A miracle of observational documentary, Guerín’s incredibly intimate and ubiquitous camera shows how the life of this section of town will be changed, how the old inhabitants will be displaced, along with their customs and words that seem to represent a culture also on the brink of extinction. The immigrants and laborers that the construction brings in each contribute in their turn to the process of transformation of one city into another.

movie still from Batalla de Chile

La batalla de Chile 

("The Battle of Chile")
Part 1: The Insurrection of the Bourgeoisie (96 min)
Part 2: The Coup d’ Etat (88 min)

On September 11, 1973, the Socialist president of Chile, Salvador Allende, was ousted from office in a bloody military coup headed by General Augusto Pinochet. Over nine months, Patricio Guzmán and five colleagues chronicled on film the political events that led up to that day. The bombing of Casa de la Moneda, in which Allende was killed, would be the tragic finale of this classic documentary that Guzmán completed in exile with the help of the French master Chris Marker. Screened here is the original version, consisting of two parts. Part 1: “The Insurrection of the Bourgeoisie” examines the escalation of opposition to the Socialist government, following the unexpected victory of the Left in the by-elections of March 1973. Faced with the impossibility of stopping socialist rule through the ballot, the Right takes its opposition to the streets. Part 2: “The Coup d’Etat” opens with the failed coup attempt of June 1973 that nonetheless paved the way for the inevitable final confrontation. Guzmán documents the internal discussions on the Left and the implacable strategy of the Right that led to the September 11 coup.