Your cinephile friends won’t be available to grab a beer for the next two weeks. Buenos Aires International Festival of Independent Cinema (BAFICI) is on, guys. But by all means, jump on the bandwagon. Tickets are cheaper than going to Cinemark and the program is flooding with audio-visual gems. Among these, a diamond stands out: Finding Sofía.
The US-Argentine production, written and directed by Nicolás Casavecchia is premiering on Thursday 14th at Recoleta Village at 11PM (and will also be screened on Friday 15th at 1.15PM in Recoleta Village and on Sunday 17th at 6.35PM in Centro Cultural San Martín.) We urge you all to go or watch it when you can. Especially you non-native Argentines who remember all too well the struggles of fernet, meat three times a day and not tripping over every three meters on the city’s sidewalks. Understanding Peronism? We still don’t.
The 1h45 long film, which is competing in the “Official Argentine Competition” of BAFICI, tells the story of yanqui film-maker Alex’s quest to meet Sofía, an Argentine girl with whom he has developed an online relationship following a critical comment she leaves on one of his viral animation videos. One too many beers finds him with a flight to Buenos Aires. He boards the plane only to find himself in a Vicky Cristina Barcelona love triangle-slash-square, in Tigre’s delta.
Though the references are subtle, the motion picture grasps raw Argentina to perfection: the symbolism of mate, the asado, the “American” debate, the cumbia, the anarchist, the bearded Peronist boyfriend, the chamuyero, the “la puta madre que te pario“, the passion and the rage; all through the eyes of a New Yorker, fresh off the boat. The fish-out-of-the-water.
The Bubble spoke to Sam Huntington, who played said New Yorker, Alex, and whose first hand experience isn’t too dissimilar to his character’s. Before though, give this a watch:
What were the cultural exchanges that you had in Argentina like? Could you relate to Alex, who comes to Argentina without knowing anything about the country, let alone a word of Spanish?
The fish-out-of-the-water narrative is one that is very familiar to others. A lot of people have travelled across the world and end up feeling disconnected and unable to communicate, which is very discomforting, especially when you are desperate to make a connection, which Alex obviously is in the film. For me, luckily I was working with a wonderful crew, who understood that I only speak a little Spanish so they were very kind when it came to speaking English. But being in Argentina generally really added to my experience. It was appropriate, I was able to actually use it and relate to Alex. Something that was very challenging — and I knew that it would be — was knowing my cues for my lines: when to say my words! I understand more than I speak but I am not at all fluent. My level when I arrived was enough to know numbers and general greetings.
What differences did you find when you were filming in Argentina?
I think that the mate is a perfect example of the cultural difference which I really enjoyed learning about. The asados, the food, I mean it was all beautiful to me because I am a food lover; especially exploring foods from all around the world so that was a really exciting part of being here. I mean, this is such a different place! Everything happens a couple of hours later. We would finish filming around 7PM and it would be hours before the crew would eat any food, which took me a little bit of time to adapt to.
Where you the only North American working on set?
They were primarily Argentine, but Andrew Geller, who is our producer is also from the US but he speaks better Spanish than I do! But I find that Argentines generally were very welcoming.
When were you filming?
December 2014. It was hot, so hot. And there were so many mosquitoes. But it was so beautiful and so good to get into the river and swim. I couldn’t be farther removed from where I live in Montreal so it was lovely to be out here.
How long did it take to film?
Five weeks, which is standard. We did about one week in Buenos Aires and then almost four weeks at the river. And there was a tiny crew. I think we must have been about 20 and we were so isolated that we all got very, very close.
Last thing he said? “I love, love it here.” Dios, we feel you, Sam.