El Clan Film
El Clan Film

The Argentinian Film Academy chose Pablo Trapero’s film El Clan to represent Argentina for the foreign-language category yesterday. This surprised very few seeing as the film broke records for attendance during its premier.

Based on the very real (and disturbing) story of the lurid Puccio family who kidnapped wealthy people during Argentina’s last dictatorship. El Clan, produced by Spanish film director Pedro Almodóvar and 20th Century Fox, has a very good chance to get picked by the cinematic demigods in Hollywood.

If El Clan does indeed get to compete for the Oscar award next year, it would be the first time since the 80’s that Argentina has a competitive feature two years in a row. Last year saw Argentine film Relatos Salvajes make it all the way to the final running only to be looked over for the Polish film Ida –if that happens again a new feriado (maybe November) might be in order. Not to brag but The Bubble’s (via Emily Jensen’s greatness) called this disappointment before it happened.

"Kidnappin LC" - An article of the time when the Puccio's Clan was discovered and arrested.
“Kidnappin LC” – An article of the time when the Puccio’s Clan was discovered and arrested.
Mr. Oscar and Argentina

Argentina has a well-developed cinema tradition, despite what the haters say. Unique and brilliant films have caught the world’s attention from directors like Mario Soffici, Leonardo Favio, Luis Puenzo, Lucrecia Martel and Juan José Campanella and are very well-known and respected by the international film society. So shut up! We’re awesome, ok?!

Despite, more than a 100-years of film making, one of the biggest international film festivals (in Mar del Plata) and several presentations in Cannes, Venice, Berlin and else, Argentine films have only made it to the Oscars a few times.

The first time an Argentinian movie made it to the Academy Awards, was in 1974 with La Tregua. After that only six films have made the cut, Camila in 1985, The Official Story in 1986 and the first to be awarded –you should watch that film- and Tango in 1998. The 21th might have been the beginning of a new era with the rockstar Juan José Campanella, (two nominations and one award), El Hijo de la Novia 2001 and The Secret in Their Eyes (the original one) in 2009 when he won his first Oscar and the second one for the country. This year, the third film by Damián Szifrón, Wild Tales competed as well and lost against a Polish black and white drama.

Why El Clan has an excellent chance at making it to the Oscars

There are three main reasons. First, the fact that Fox and Almodóvar (every gay guys’ one’s Spanish director), are behind the project is a huge deal. The other reason are the awards being brought home by Argentines and the world’s awareness of film are both increasing. Pablo Trapero won the silver lion in Venice for best director this year, this is a big deal as it is one of the most important film festivals out there. The third reason is a bit more conceptual but no less relevant. El Clan presents a crude Latin-American reality adjacent to the Academy’s view of third world country, add a dictatorship and money troubles in the equation and you might have a winner. That kind of contrast tends to pay off.

The formal announcement of the Oscars nominations will take place January 14th, until then we will just keep crossing our fingers for El Clan. Do it, Pablo, do it for us.