Mercury retrograde has really started to piss me off. I can handle the stressful miscommunications with my family, the seemingly spontaneous destruction of electronic devices, and the all-around sense of frustration that permeates everything I do or say as the planets go wonky up in outer space. But they’ve gone too far. After six years, Buenos Aires Mon Amour Cine Arte (BAMA) theater announced that it’s closing its doors for good.
— EscribiendoCine (@escribiendocine) July 29, 2019
If you aren’t familiar with BAMA, perhaps it’s because you prefer to see movies in modern spaces that have central air conditioning and heating, with seats that don’t creak, and that are insulated against the rumbling din of the Subte as it whizzes by the underground theaters. BAMA wasn’t like that. It was a funky little space just steps from the Obelisco in downtown Buenos Aires, with a handful of small theaters that always attracted the most bizarre of patrons. At any given time, you’d just as easily come across a pair of old ladies out to see the latest French release, as you would a young couple – definitely art students – eager to catch their friend’s flick that just premiered locally, or a few randos like myself with a strange compulsion to see movies that sap your soul of any will to live (but make perfect fodder for the post-cinema goblet of wine at Petit Colón around the corner).
The news of BAMA’s closing was shared through a letter sent by the theater’s co-founder Guillermo Cisterna Mansilla. In it, he doesn’t give specific reasons behind the announcement, but he did share sincere thanks to those that supported BAMA from the start:
“In these six years, we’re so proud to have achieved the goal we set: to be the kind of movie theater that doesn’t exist anymore. Offering independent films, the best of Argentine cinema, and movies that often times are unable to find space at commercial theaters. You all came [to BAMA] trusting in our programming, and that was so motivational. Seeing you enjoy it was the best gift we could have been given. Without a doubt there were films we didn’t get to screen, requests that went unfulfilled, a few we’d have liked to watch again, but the programming was always for you. We are the audience. Buenos Aires Mon Amour (BAMA) thanks all of the distributors, the INCAA, Cinemateca Argentina, directors, producers, actors, critics, the media, professors, the French Embassy, and more. Hopefully we’ll see each other again soon, but until then, don’t stop going to the movies. Films are meant to be enjoyed in those dark rooms with a peaceful coexistence. Movies make our lives happier!
BAMA was the spot where you could catch all of the Academy Award nominees for Best Foreign Film, where you could see the independent movies that only seem to premiere in cities like New York or London, where you could soak up the gems of cine argentino that showcase the pure talent of the country’s filmmakers. Tickets were dirt cheap, screenings took place morning, noon, and night, and the bar notable just across the street was the ideal spot to have a drink before heading over at showtime. I’ve lost track of the incredible (and insane) movies I saw there, and am kicking myself for not taking advantage of it more often.
Honestly, I’m not sure how I will recover from this. Sure, it can be nice to go the Village Recoleta and spend AR $300 on popcorn before watching Spider-Man 37 or whatever. But there’s nothing that can replace the special feeling of being among fellow cinéfilos on a random rainy Tuesday night in downtown Buenos Aires as you all settle in to watch a movie that barely anyone has heard about.