Review: ‘Matanza’

A makeshift manifesto on worker resistance and grassroots organization produced collectively by men and women struggling to survive in economically devastated Argentina, "Matanza" (named for a particularly unified working-class region near Buenos Aires) captures well the day-to-day realities of social activism.

A makeshift manifesto on worker resistance and grassroots organization produced collectively by men and women struggling to survive in economically devastated Argentina, “Matanza” (named for a particularly unified working-class region near Buenos Aires) captures well the day-to-day realities of social activism. Though docu has potential universal impact, the specificity of events will limit docu’s exposure Stateside to educational and labor venues.

Pic opens on black-and-white images of starving street kids eating roast cat and closes with official statistics outlining the country’s seemingly insurmountable fiscal debacle: 41% of the population living in poverty and a national debt requiring a payback of $1.25 million per hour in interest alone. In between, footage ranging from David and Goliath-type confrontations of slingshot-wielding demonstrators versus armed cops to scenes of middle-aged men and their gradually radicalized wives organizing soup kitchens and traffic blockades. The uniquely Argentine mixed legacy of Peronism and military rule gives docu a peculiar slant as people not historically versed in class warfare slowly overcome fear, cynicism and distrust of their neighbors.

Matanza

Argentina

Production

A Magoya Films/Twenty Eyes/Yenan/ENERC/INCAA production. Produced by El Grupo Documental Primero de Mayo (Fernando Menedez, Nicolas Batlle, Ruben Delgado). Executive producer, Virginia Soraya. Directed by Grupo Documental (Fernando Menendez, Nicolas Batlle, Ruben Delgado, Emiliano Penelas).

Crew

Camera (color, B&W, video), Emiliano Penelas; editor, Delgado. Reviewed on cassette at La Cinema Fe, New York, Feb. 12, 2003. Spanish dialogue. Running time: 73 MIN.
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