With the month of December already upon us, it’s time to refresh our monthly film guide and delve into what we consider to be some of the best films screened in Buenos Aires. With specific reference to Portuguese and Nordic cinema, as well as renowned nominations at the Cannes Film Festival in France, there really is something here for everyone. So go on, have a read and see what tickles your fancy.
La Semana de Cine Portugués at MALBA
The 6th Week of Portuguese Cinema presents, for the first time in the city, a retrospective of Joāo Pedro Rodrigues, filmmaker and director of acclaimed films Die like a Man (2009), The Last Time I Saw Macao (2012) and The Ornithologist (2016). Held from the 6th-9th of December at MALBA, with support from Viavem, Camões Instituto da Cooperação e da Língua, the Embassy of Portugal in Buenos Aires and the Fundação Calouste Gulkenkian Foundation, a careful selection of the best and most representative production of Portuguese film will be shown, namely O Fantasma, Morrer Como Um Homem, A Ultima Vez que Vi Macau and O Ornitólogo.
Finally, a selection devised by Roger Koza of three short films directed by both Rodriques and João Rui Guerra de Mata will be shown, produced in 2012-2014 in Portugal. In addition to this, there will be seminars and appearances from directors and film stars alike: click here to see the full program.
Thursday, December 6th, 9.30 PM
Iec Long, 2014 (32 minutes) – Set at the remains of an old fireworks factory in Macao, firecrackers, lights and explosions will overprint the footsteps of child exploitation and child labour in the last Portuguese colony that existed in Asia.
Mahjong, 2013 (36 minutes) – This story explores the world of Mahjong, an Eastern millennial table game, set in the largest Chinatown in Portugal.
Manhã de Santo António, 2012 (25 minutes) – Representing the festivities in honor of the Patron Saint of Liston, the almost empty city is populated by its clumsy and slow citizens, with zombies that travel certain neighborhoods in the early hours of the morning.
Morrer como un Homem
Friday, December 7th, 8 PM
A transgender woman tries to erase any past history of herself as a male as she struggles with a young male lover and a problematic son.
Saturday, December 8th, 4 PM
Young and handsome Sergio works the night shift as a trash collector in Lisbon, Portugal. He can’t force himself to connect with his pretty female co-worker Fatima, who displays an avid interest in him, so instead Sergio roams the city with the trash company’s pet dog. Eventually, Sergio becomes fascinated with a sleek motorcycle, and then also its owner, João – a young man totally indifferent to Sergio. The frustrated trash collector’s surfacing sexual desires unleash his darkest impulses, sending him down a dangerous path of violence, depravity, and degradation.
Odete (Two Drifters)
Sunday, December 9th, 7 PM
Pedro and Rui kiss after a first-anniversary dinner; Pedro drives home, dying en route in a crash. Another pair of lovers, Odete and Alberto, split over her desire to have a child. Pedro lived in Odete’s building. She attends the wake, stealing a ring, a last gift from Rui, from Pedro’s finger. She behaves hysterically at the graveside, and later, wearing Pedro’s ring, she insists she’s carrying Pedro’s child. Rui grieves as well, drinking too much and seeing Pedro’s apparition. Odete’s obsession intrudes on Rui, whose grief makes him vulnerable to her hysteria. Can this end well?
A Ultima Vez que Vi Macao
Sunday, December 9th, 9.30 PM
A wonderfully mysterious, shape-shifting feature from celebrated filmmakers João Pedro Rodrigues and João Rui Guerra da Mata, this is a detective tale that blends film noir, documentary footage and personal travelogue to intoxicating effect. Following a spectacular opening number, a lip-synched rendition of Jane Russell’s sultry You Kill Me, the film’s hero, in voiceover, sets the tale in motion. He has come to Macao in search of Candy, an old friend who he fears has been kidnapped by a shadowy crime syndicate. He searches the city streets, back alleys, gambling dens and music halls, but Candy s whereabouts elude him, until a larger, more sinister plot comes into focus.
Sunday, December 9th, 11.30 PM
Fernando, a solitary ornithologist, is looking for black storks when he is swept away by the rapids. Rescued by a couple of Chinese pilgrims, he plunges into an eerie and dark forest, trying to get back on his track.
Cannes Film Festival at the Gaumont
Marking the 10th year anniversary of Ventana Sur, the most important market of audiovisual content in Latin America, a selection of eight films from the Cannes Film Festival will be screened at the Gaumont from December 10th-16th, selected by the director of the festival himself, Thierry Frémaux. For just AR $30 you will be able to watch any of your top picks, from one of the most prestigious film festivals in the world.
Shoplifters, directed by Hirokazu Koreeda
Monday, December 10th, 8 PM and Sunday, December 16th 8 PM
Somewhere in Tokyo, Osamu Shibata and his wife Nobuyo live in poverty. While Osamu receives occasional employment and Nobuyo has a low-paying job, the family relies in large part on the grandmother’s pension. As he is shoplifting for groceries with his son, Shota, they discover Yuri, a little girl sleeping outside. Osamu takes her home, where the family observes evidence of abuse. Despite their strained finances, they informally adopt her. Awarded Best Film at the Cannes Film Festival, this outstanding film is definitely one to watch.
Directed by Quentin Tarantino (Tuesday, December 11th, 7 PM)
With Guest of Honor Tim Roth attending this event, cast as “Mr. Orange” in Tarantino’s Reservoir Dogs, the film follows the story of six professional criminals, unbeknownst to one another, who are hired to carry out a robbery. Unlucky for them, the police appear unexpectedly at the time of the heist, and some members of the band die in a confrontation while others manage to flee and to discover who gave them away. Presented at the Cannes Festival in 1992, this renowned and globally recognized film is not one to miss.
Directed by Gaspar Noé (Tuesday, December 11th, 10.15 PM)
Winner of the Art Cinema Prize of the Directors’ Fortnight, Climax‘s dramatic genre follows a group of French dancers gathered in a remote, empty school building to rehearse on a wintry night. The all-night celebration morphs into a hallucinatory nightmare when they learn their sangria is laced with LSD. They have been drugged, but they do not know by who,, or why.
Directed by Nadine Labaki (Wednesday, December 12th, 8 PM)
Winner of the Jury Prize at the Cannes Film Festival, Capernaun (“Chaos”) tells the story of Zain (Zain al Rafeea), a Lebanese boy who sues his parents for the “crime” of giving him life. The film follows Zain as he journeys from gutsy, streetwise child to hardened 12-year-old “adult” fleeing his negligent parents, surviving through his wits on the streets, taking care of Ethiopian refugee Rahil and her baby son Yonas, being jailed for a violent crime, and finally, seeking justice in a courtroom.
Directed by Lee Chang-Dong (Thursday, December 13th, 8 PM)
Jong-soo runs into Hae-mi, a girl who once lived in his neighborhood, and she asks him to watch her cat while she’s out of town. When she returns, she introduces him to Ben, a wealthy young man she met on the trip. Ben proceeds to tell Jong-soo about his strange, off-putting hobby, burning down abandoned greenhouses.
Directed by Matteo Garrone (Friday, December 14th, 8 PM)
Starring Marcello Fonte, winner of the Best Actor Award at the Cannes festival, a small and gentle dog groomer finds himself involved in a dangerous relationship of subjugation with Simone, a former violent boxer who terrorizes the entire neighborhood. In an effort to reaffirm his dignity, Marcello will submit to an unexpected act of vengeance.
Directed by Ali Abbasi (Saturday, December 15th, 8 PM)
Winner of the category Un Certain Regard at the Cannes Festival, a customs officer who can smell fear develops an unusual attraction to a strange traveller, while aiding a police investigation which will call into question her entire existence.
Nordic Cinema at Complejo Teatral de Buenos Aires
Until the 17th of December, Complejo Teatral de Buenos Aires will screen 12 recent releases from Sweden, Norway and Finland, as well as tw0 films released in the 1980s, a classic from the period of silent cinema and a selection of short films, all representative of the wealth and diversity of cinema that has been produced in the Nordic region of the European continent.
Directed by May el-Toukhy (Thursday, December 6th, 2 PM/4.3o PM/7 PM/9.30 PM)
Released in 2015, this is the story of Ellen and her friends, all of whom are reaching their forties and are in complicated relationships in the search for a romantic redemption. With three years of peaks and troughs through eight different chapters, this group of women are fighting with the concept of a ‘perfect’ relationship, willing to reevaluate their idea of what real love is.
Directed by Selma Vilhunen (Friday, December 7th, 4.30 PM/7 PM/9.30 PM)
Varpu is a 12-year-old girl that learns to drive when her friends steal a car. With her mother failing her driving test, Varpu no longer tolerates her mother’s sadness and drives north in the search of her father.
We Are the Best
Directed by Lukas Moodysson (Sunday, December 9th, 2 PM/4.30 PM/7 PM/9.30 PM)
Stockholm, 1982. Bobo and Klara live 13 years in absolute conviction that punk is not dead. They hate the music that their parents, brothers and friends listen to, leading to the decision to assemble a punk rock band. The fact that they hardly know how to play an instrument isn’t important. When they meet Hedvig, a religious and candid girl who studies classical guitar, they know the band is complete and begin to compose their first songs.
Short Films from Finland
Monday, December 10th, 2 pM/4.30 PM/7 PM/9.30 PM
The Documents directed by Kalle Kotila, Small Awkward acts of Tenderness by Miia Tervo, Listen by Hamy Ramezan and Rungano Nyoni and The keys to Paradise by Hamy Ramezan will be screened back-to-back on Monday, with the four films totaling a duration of just 60 minutes.
Directed by Frederikke Aspöck (Tuesday, December 11th, 2 PM/4.30 PM/7 PM/9.30 PM)
In a fishing village in Denmark, Ulrik and Johannes (father and son) live a calm and peaceful life. Ulrik, lacking in love, decides to arrange for a young Filipino to live with him. When Johannes begins to act as a translator between them, he will end up falling in love with Rosita, just like his father has.
The Bridal Procession in Hardanger
Directed by Rasmus Breistein (Wednesday, December 12th, 2 PM/4.30 PM/7 PM/9.30PM)
Based on the novel Marit Skjølte by Kristofer Janson, this is a classic of the silent film period of Norwegian cinema, in which Marit and his love Anders travelled to the United States to seek fortune. Unknowingly, Marit will return to marry an heir to a farm, with his fate for the future unknown.
Walk With Me
Directed by Lisa Ohlin (Thursday, December 13th, 2 PM/4.30 PM/7 PM/9.30 PM)
Thomas, a 25-year old Danish soldier lost both legs while on duty in Helmand, Afghanistan. During his recovery in a center, he met Sofie, a dancer of the Royal Ballet of Denmark who is helping a family member recover their strength after a long illness. Thomas wants to return to a relatively normal life and his impatience grows when he realizes that his progress is not as fast as he would like. When Sofie offers to help him with a more intense rehabilitation program, he accepts. Despite their differences, they begin to forge a strong and special bond.
Behind Blue Skies
Directed by Hannes Holm (Friday, December 14th, 2 PM/4,30 PM/7 PM/9.30 PM)
It’s the mid 1970s. Martin escapes from home because he cannot withstand his father’s alcohol addiction. He manages to get a summer job in the exclusive Royal Sailing Club, located in the idyllic Stockholm archipelago and is hosted by a man called Gösta, a playboy. Besides finding his first love, Martin becomes involved in one of the greatest sandals in Sweden.
Directed by Kaspar Astrup Schröder (Saturday, December 15th, 2 PM/4.30 PM/7 PM/9.30 PM)
The Dutch Bjarke Ingels, a ‘pretty boy’ working in the new Two World Trade Center for Architecture, is not invincible. Experiencing both professional and personal issues, one day he suffers from concussion, and doctors find a small tumor in his brain. This passionate documentary follows the day to day life of Ingles, for over a seven-year period.
Directed by Lisa James Larsson (Sunday, December 16th, 2 pM/4.30 PM/7 PM/9.30 PM)
Sebastian, a young 25-year-old, is only interested in his appearance, living a life full of money and partying. Just when he thinks he has reached the best point in his life, he is involved in an accident which leaves him blind. The world disappears before him, but when it seems as though he has reached rock bottom, he meets Mia, a personal assistant. Paradoxically, Mia will become the first person to open his eyes to what is really important in life.